Our response to figures released by NHS Improvement on NHS deficits

Sally Gainsbury responds to figures released by NHS Improvement on the performance of NHS trusts.

Press Release

Published: 20/05/2016

Commenting on today’s figures released by NHS Improvement on the performance of NHS trusts, Nuffield Trust Senior Policy analyst Sally Gainsbury said:

The real, underlying figure is even more dramatic – over £3.2 billion. These figures are being flattered by £670m worth of accountancy measures that improve the surface picture, but without changing the reality of costs. Investment spending has been pushed down by more than a quarter compared to initial plans.

“The size of NHS trust overspends shown in these figures is the highest ever under the current system, and hundreds of millions more than planned. The real, underlying figure is even more dramatic – over £3.2 billion. These figures are being flattered by £670m worth of accountancy measures that improve the surface picture, but without changing the reality of costs. Investment spending has been pushed down by more than a quarter compared to initial plans.

“This shortfall is much more than can be accounted for by often discussed issues with agency staffing – extra spending linked to this accounts for only £760 million. 

“These gaps result from several years during which the amount paid for treatments has been cut faster than trusts can cut their costs. Our ongoing analysis suggests that this problem will remain for several years, and I worry that it will take funding and attention away from addressing the deeper changes the NHS needs to achieve.”