The areas of the country where NHS cuts are likely to hit hardest because services are nearing their “overdraft” limits have been revealed, in a new analysis.
Following the worst financial crisis in the history of the NHS, every part of the service has been set stringent “control totals” which limit the amount of deficit that can be authorised.
Research by Health Service Journal shows Staffordshire, Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucestershire are the areas likely to fall furthest short of their targets, with warnings that services will now have to “confront difficult choices”.
NHS authorities are already drawing up plans for dramatic changes to services, with the closure of Accident & Emergency departments and maternity units under discussion across swathes of the country.
In Staffordshire, health officials are discussing the loss of full A&E services from either Burton Queen’s Hospital, Royal Stoke University Hospital or County Hospital in Stafford, while Somerset’s plans could see the downgrading of A&E at Weston General Hospital.
But the new analysis suggests that existing plans may not go far enough to ensure areas achieve financial targets set by NHS England and NHS Improvement.