Hospital deficits are twice as high as forecast, it was claimed today as Jeremy Hunt demanded billions in extra NHS funding.
Official figures due later this week are expected to show English hospitals finished 2017/18 about £1billion in the red – double the £496million predicted, the Guardian said.
The data will fuel the Health Secretary’s battle inside Government for billions in extra funding when a new spending package is unveiled in the summer.
A leading surgeon today intervened on the spending debate to warn there was ‘ridiculous waste’ which should be tackled before hiking budgets.
Hospital deficits are twice as high as forecast, it was claimed today as Jeremy Hunt demanded billions in extra NHS funding (file image)
Chancellor Philip Hammond has reportedly privately said the health service budget should rise by 2.5 per cent, while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants 3 per cent
Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned spending big on the NHS will mean no more cash for other departments in next year’s full spending review.
He has reportedly said the health service budget should rise by 2.5 per cent, while Mr Hunt wants 3 per cent and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens 4 per cent.
Sally Gainsbury, a senior policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust, a thinktank, said: ‘NHS providers started the financial year 2017/18 with a £4billion black hole between their underlying costs and income that was deepened further over the year.
‘So while hospitals and other NHS services did make efficiency savings over the year, the vast bulk of those savings were needed just to stop the black hole getting any deeper.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has said the health service needs 4 per cent annual increases to its budget
‘Essentially, services are having to run to just stand still, or even move slightly backwards.
‘The real underlying deficit is likely to remain very similar to where it was at the start of the year – at around £4billion, which is inevitable as long as we continue to systematically pay hospitals and other services less than the cost of actually delivering care.’
Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘[Trusts] are at the end of their tether.
‘It’s simply not realistic or reasonable to expect the NHS to go on delivering a comprehensive, universal service with inexorably rising demand and demonstrably inadequate funding.’
In March, the public accounts select committee said NHS finances ‘remain in a perilous state’.
MPs warned: ‘The NHS is still very much in survival mode, with budgets unable to keep pace with demand.
‘The NHS has a long way to go before it is financially sustainable.’
Prof Keith Willett (pictured at the Kings Fund last year), the NHS medical director for acute care, today intervened on the spending debate to warn there was ‘ridiculous waste’ which should be tackled before hiking budgets
In other developments today, Prof Keith Willett, the NHS medical director for acute care, urges medics to stop ‘fuming’ when the system ‘grinds to a halt’ and instead do more to prevent beds being blocked by patients who should be discharged.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, the senior surgeon says that too often the system has stopped functioning even before the first patient arrives for surgery.
He said: ‘To have highly skilled surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses sitting around waiting is clearly a ridiculous waste of resources.’
He added: ‘The best problem solving happens when senior clinicians and managers come together, because we start to understand the reasons for blockages and where they could – with some leadership, common-sense thinking and a rearrangement of resources – be solved.’