NHS ran deficits of more than £700m last year despite £1.8bn cash boost
NHS trusts in England ran deficits of £770m in the last financial year, breaching the health service’s target by almost £200m.
Analysis of individual trusts’ financial performance by the Health Service Journal produced the figure after the Department of Health decided not to publish the official statistics due to their political sensitivity ahead of the general election.
In 2015/16 trusts ended the year £2.45bn in the red; this year’s figures were kept lower by a £1.8bn injection of cash from the sustainability and transformation fund, which trusts could access if they brought forward plans for efficiency savings.
Approximately 100 of England’s 235 trusts are thought to have ended the year in deficit.
NHS Improvement had set a target deficit of £580m for 2016/17.
Labour said the figures showed the NHS’s finances were “at their weakest and most unstable”.
“Hospitals remain millions of pounds in deficit and the result is services cut back, treatments delayed and staff laid off as managers try to balance the books in the face of the Government’s neglect,” said Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth.
“It is astonishing that it has taken a leak for this information to become public ahead of the election. The truth is that the Government has tried to cover up the depth of the crisis in the NHS and now we see why: seven years of underfunding have left hospital finances on the brink.
“Only Labour is offering the NHS a long term, sustainable funding solution to sort out hospital finances for good and make sure the NHS can get back to delivering the best possible standard of care for patients.”
The Conservatives said the reduction in the deficit year-on-year was a “tribute to the hard work of staff”.
“The way to continue investing in our NHS is to ensure we get the right Brexit deal, which only Theresa May can secure – because a strong NHS needs a strong economy. Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, enacting his nonsensical economic policies, would put all that at risk,” a Tory spokesman added.