NHS finance managers warn today that patients are set to experience poorer care, longer waiting times for treatment and greater rationing.
A grim outlook for the NHS’s finances is also likely to see many hospitals fail to make savings that ministers have said are vital and put plans for the service to reform how it operates in serious doubt. More than one in five (22%) of over 200 NHS finance directors in hospitals and GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England surveyed by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) believe that quality of care will worsen during 2016-17. That 22% is a sharp increase on the 9% who voiced that fear as recently as last November.
Even more finance directors – one in three – fear that care will deteriorate in 2017-18 as a direct result of the NHS’s unprecedented financial struggles.
“Fears around the impact the current financial turmoil in the NHS could have on quality are a real cause for concern and we may start to see more of these predictions come true in the year ahead,” said Paul Briddock, the director of policy at the HFMA, which represents NHS finance managers.
“Respondents from both sectors felt waiting times (76%), access to services (69%) and the range of services offered (61%) were the most vulnerable” due to the financial squeeze, according to the HFMA’s latest biannual “NHS financial temperature check” report.
The HFMA’s findings raise questions about the likelihood of NHS trusts in England keeping their overspend for 2016-17 to the £250m they have been told to adhere to and the service getting its finances back into the black after providers of care ran up a deficit of £2.45bn last year.
Full story in The Guardian 5 July 2016