Patient care could start to suffer after hospitals and other NHS trusts in England overspent by a record £2.45bn last year, experts are warning.
The unprecedented deficit for 2015-16 – triple what was recorded the year before – is largely a result of hospitals busting their budgets.
They will now need to use extra money they are being given this year to bail themselves out.
Hospital chiefs warned that may lead to longer waiting times and poorer care.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said the situation was “simply not sustainable”.
“We have to rapidly regain control of NHS finances, otherwise we risk lengthening waiting times for patients, limiting their access to wider services and other reductions in the quality of patient care.”
The NHS in England is already missing a series of key waiting times, including in A&E, cancer care and the ambulance service.
There are also a record number of people on waiting lists for routine operations, such as knee and hip replacements.
Anita Charlesworth, of the Health Foundation think tank, said she agreed, adding the mood in the NHS “could not be bleaker”.
“The level of deficits in terms of scale and how many hospitals are in deficit is unprecedented. It puts organisations under stress, which makes them fragile and risky.
“There is pressure on recruitment, pressure on management and that has an impact on services. We are already seeing waiting time targets being breached.”
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These trusts account for about two-thirds of the entire £116bn health budget – they do not cover GPs, training allowances, public health budgets held by councils or any unspent money held by local health managers.
That means the Department of Health could still balance the books when the overall accounts are released later in the summer.
Although a hospital trust financial director, who …read more
Source:: BBC UK