On the day briefing: 2018/19 Quarter 2 finances and performance

NHS Improvement (NHSI) has released the quarter two (Q2) finance and operational performance figures for the provider sector. These figures cover the period 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2018. This briefing summarises the key headlines for those figures as well as our view of what they mean.

NHS Provider's view on the Q2 finance and performance figures

Responding to the publication of the Q2 financial and performance figures for the NHS provider sector, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

“These figures reflect a very difficult summer for trusts and their staff as they have worked flat out to grapple with an unholy combination of rapidly rising demand, an ongoing financial squeeze and a once in a generation workforce shortage problem.

“Once again, trusts have delivered a heroic performance, treating more patients than ever before within the A&E target, improving discharge rates and continuing to deliver stretching levels of financial savings.

“But the reality is that, however hard trusts work, they cannot currently keep up with the growth in demand for care. Yet again, the most recent NHS England performance data recorded the highest level of emergency admissions of patients in A&E since records began and this is putting severe pressure on beds and services across health and care even before the busy winter period. Mental health, community and ambulance trusts report similar levels of unrelenting demand increases and resulting pressure on service delivery. These pressures are contributing to increasing delays for patients and service users, while creating an intolerable working environment for many staff. All trusts are warning that, despite improvements, this coming winter is likely to be more challenging than the last.

“We have to be honest about the demand and workforce pressures in front of us and what it will take to meet these challenges. And we have to stop setting trusts overambitious performance and financial targets that they cannot meet, despite best efforts. However much we want to focus on new commitments and NHS transformation, we have to get back to delivering the right quality of care within the allocated funding. That means devoting the right amount of recent NHS funding increases to recovering constitutional performance standards and eliminating ongoing provider financial deficits.

“There remains concern over the underfunding of the pay award. The impact varies provider to provider, but it means some trusts are having to find other ways to fund this additional cost pressure in-year.

“NHS Improvement rightly argues that the new NHS long term plan must reset NHS performance. This means trusts must be given realistic financial and operational performance targets next year that they can actually deliver. They must be properly funded to break the current cycle of ever worsening performance. And we still need more urgent action to address workforce shortages.”

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