The NHS provider sector’s deficit has been cut by two-thirds

In the financial year just ended, the NHS provider sector’s deficit has been cut from £2.4 billion in 2015/2016 to £791 million in 2016/17.

The figures show that there has been an improvement of £1.7 billion, driven by savings of £3.1 billion with over £700 million saved on locus and agency use in the year. This is against a backdrop of rising demand and a significant increase in delayed transfers of care. Analysis shows that providers experienced a 24.5 per cent increase in delayed days in 2016/17 compared to 2015/16.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “This year, the NHS has achieved the impossible. No healthcare system in the developed world has managed to achieve this level of efficiency. Sheer hard work by our staff has seen us finish the year in a far more healthy financial position than in recent times, whilst maintaining a focus on patient safety, compassion and outcomes. The NHS has delivered this financial turnaround at the same time as dealing with very high levels of demand – particularly over the winter period. In addition, there have been great efforts made in improving outcomes for patients. People should feel justly proud of what they’ve achieved this year, and go into next year knowing that, whilst it will be hard, the challenge certainly is not impossible.”

The Health Foundation has since responded to the statistics.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics, said: “The deficit of £791 million means that NHS trust have missed their target of £580 million. This is a large improvement on last year’s £2.45 billion, ending a trend of rising deficits that began in 2013/14. However the service still faces a continued challenge over the next two years following the end of frontloaded investment. Less than half of NHS trusts were in deficit last year compared to two thirds the year before. This is a big improvement, but with 44 per cent of trusts in deficit there are clearly still substantial pressures across the system and there is more work to be done.”

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