Nuffield Trust response to NHS financial figures

Financial figures to the end of Quarter 4 for 2017/18 report a £960m deficit, however, the true underlying deficit is likely to be in the region of £4bn.

Press release

Published: 31/05/2018

Commenting on NHS financial figures to the end of Quarter 4 for 2017/18, Nuffield Trust Senior Policy Analyst Sally Gainsbury said:

“Given the huge pressures on NHS providers, it is not at all surprising that the reported deficit for 2017/18 is £960m. As we have previously warned, there is a widening gap between what we are asking the NHS to do and what we are funding it to do.

“But we must remember that the reported figures published today are very much window dressing. Our analysis suggests that the true, underlying figure is much, much worse as the NHS has had to patch up its finances with a series of one-off savings and emergency extra cash.

“Today’s report reveals that the £960m reported deficit figure is arrived at after around £850m of one-off savings - even higher than last year [1] - as well as the non-recurrent £1.8bn Sustainability and Transformation Fund. Taking these into account, along with other short-term fixes, the true underlying deficit is likely to be in the region of £4bn – similar to our own projections [2].

“This hand-to-mouth existence is not a sustainable way to run complex and vital institutions like hospitals.”

Notes to editors

1. Non-recurrent efficiency savings totalled £842m in 2017/18, compared to £789 in 2016/17

2. Further detail on Sally Gainsbury’s analysis on the underlying deficit is available here and here

To speak to Sally Gainsbury or for further information, please contact: Leonora Merry on 020 7462 0555/ 07920 043709 or