New analysis has revealed huge holes in NHS finances that were previously masked by official accounts last year.
According to The Nuffield Trust, NHS bosses spent nearly £3 billion more than they had officially declared. Not counting one-off sales and “paper-based” savings the figures make for grim reading.
In reviewing the 2016-2017 costs incurred by NHS hospitals and ambulance trusts a secret overspend of £3.7 billion has been revealed which dwarfs the £791 million previously registered by hospital chiefs.
With the previous year’s overspending hitting nearly £2.5 billion the swift turnaround and relatively low overspend of nearly 800 million was seen as thoroughly good news. However closer analysis by The Nuffield Trust of the NHs accounts has revealed that the financial turnaround was mostly due to one-off incidents that could not be repeated to produce the same results in following years. Relatively little of the savings had been down to cost-cutting measures.
In light of the new information The Nuffield Trust has stated that trusts will need to find ways to collectively save £5.4 billion to have any hope of hitting the new deficit target of £500 million.
A senior policy analyst from The Nuffield Trust, Sally Gainsbury, has said of the analysis: “The official figures on NHS deficits don’t reflect how severe things are for hospitals in England, as the deficits reported include one-off funding boosts or savings that cannot be repeated the following year.
“Only by looking at the deficit after these have been stripped out can we see the scale of financial challenge facing the NHS– and it is eye watering.”
In light of the new figures it is believed that without a major injection of cash the NHS is projected to be running at a deficit of £2 billion by 2021.