NHS services face ‘impossible’ budget crisis, health trusts warn

Frontline NHS services face “mission impossible” in meeting next year’s targets, health trusts have said. Longer waiting lists for operations and delays at accident and emergency departments in England loom under the present financial constraints, said NHS Providers, a trade association that represents acute, ambulance, community and mental health services.

“We fear that patient safety is increasingly at risk.”

NHS Providers predicted its members would receive £89.1bn in funding in 2017-18, an annual rise of 2.6% but less than the 5.2% demand is expected to grow by.

It warned the number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E would increase by 40% next year to 1.8 million, and the number waiting more than 18 weeks for routine operations would rise 150% to about 100,000.

The NHS is already under strain in the wake of the Brexit vote. The number of EU nationals registering as nurses in England has dropped by 92% since the referendum in June, and a record number are quitting the NHS. Only 96 nurses joined the NHS from other European nations in December 2016 – a drop from 1,304 in July, the month after the referendum.

Full story in The Guardian, 19 March 2017