Rise in Deficit for NHS Foundation Trusts

The report said trusts had responded well to the A&E challenges this winter.

NHS foundation trusts in England in financial trouble has nearly doubled in a year from 21 to 39 according to a study undertaken by Monitor, an organisation which regulates England’s 147 foundation trusts.

The study also found that 18 trusts missed a target that 85% of suspected cancer patients start treatment within 62 days. However, it said most accident and emergency departments were coping well.

Two-thirds of England’s NHS hospitals are now foundation trusts. This means that they are not directed by the government and they have greater freedom to decide on the way services are run.

The study by Monitor found that the combined deficit of foundation trusts was £180m, higher than the £168m expected, with 60% concentrated in five organisations. A further 17 trusts have “very small” deficits.

The study found that the foundation trust sector, as a whole, has a £135m surplus so far this year. However, this is lower than the planned £173m and it has “halved since this time last year, reflecting the tough financial climate and foundation trusts’ response.”

The Midlands is the most “financially challenged” region, with 14 of its 38 trusts in deficit, including Peterborough, Mid Staffordshire, Sherwood Forest and Milton Keynes.

Overall, 44% (33) of acute trusts, 20% (one) of ambulance trusts, 11% (two) of specialist trusts and 7% (three) of mental health trusts are in deficit. Of the 147 trusts, 26 are currently in breach of their licence, including eight that are in special measures.

Monitor is also investigating a further eight for potential licence breaches for issues including performance failures and financial problems.

Jason Dorsett, financial reporting director at Monitor said, “all trusts need to up their game in delivering efficiency savings this year in order to maintain and improve the quality of care for patients, and ensure the sustainability of services. The financial trust sector is doing remarkably well in tough circumstances but is looking a little frayed at the edges.”

A Conservative health spokesman said: “As Monitor themselves say, foundation trusts are performing well despite pressure on services, and are on the whole in surplus. This government has shone a light on poor care in a way that Labour neglected to do – and which led to tragedies like Mid Staffs – in some cases putting pressure on finances as trusts address historical issues with nursing numbers and the like. We are putting recovery plans in place for any trust in financial difficulty, but as the culture within our NHS changes, we do not accept that delivering safe and compassionate care in the longer term costs more money.”

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said, “after a decade of improvements in cancer waiting times, progress has been derailed by David Cameron’s NHS reorganisation.”

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