A report published today by the National Audit Office concludes that the NHS’s financial situation is unsustainable, and warns that it has not yet achieved the transformation in finance regime essential to meet rising demand from patients.
It found that CCGs had a combined deficit of £150m in 2018-19, down from £213m the previous year. 33 CCGs reported overspends in 2018-19, with a further 162 CCGs (83%) being in balance or underspending in that year. However, when looking at the financial picture of CCGs and trusts together in an STP/ICS footprint, 64% of systems were in deficit.
Responding to the report, Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said:
“Today’s report from the National Audit Office (NAO) highlights the financial challenges facing the entire NHS and the unsustainable quick fixes that have been put in place to keep our health system running day-to-day. We have long been saying that it is vital that financial and payment structures support system working and resolve perverse incentives that encourage a focus on individual organisations as opposed to collaborative working. This is something that needs to be sorted as soon as possible before the transition to ICS by default in April 2021, so we’re pleased to see it included on the NHS Bill which is high on the Government’s list of legislative priorities.
“While there has undoubtedly been an improvement in CCGs’ finances – down to the hard work of clinical commissioners across the country – there is a long way to go; the NAO rightly point out that CCGs and trusts alone cannot make the health system sustainable. As the Chancellor prepares next month’s Budget, we hope he will include a long-term funding settlement for social care, reverse the cuts to the public health grant, and provide clarity on how workforce shortages will be addressed.”
5 February 2020