New NHS organisations slide quickly into deficit

Recent estimates suggest Integrated Commissioning Boards are headed for a combined deficit this year of £1.3bn (an average of around £30m per ICB): this would appear to be based more on hope than experience. The final total is likely to be much higher.

However with a very uneven approach by ICBs to reporting and response to the impact of financial pressures it is difficult even five months in to assess the actual situation on the ground in many areas or what the implications might be for patients and staff of any “savings” measures that might be taken.

In most areas most of the cost pressures seem to have landed on the acute hospital trusts. The squeeze on capacity has meant acute trusts have struggled to return even to levels of activity equal to 2019 before Covid, let alone hit the 104% target set for them by NHS England, and therefore begin to reduce the 7.2m waiting list.

This in turn raises questions over whether the trusts will receive the promised additional funding for elective recovery. In some ICBs this is being retained by commissioners where trusts have failed to deliver to target, in others it has been promised to trusts.

Full analysis in The Lowdown, 20 December 2022