The NHS is in dire straits financially, with NHS trusts in England racking up a £930m deficit in the first three months of this financial year, and it is Tory policies that are to blame.
The financial issues have been described by regulators as the “worst for a generation” with eight out of ten trusts already in the red, with the crisis quarter yet to hit.
Last year, the NHS’s deficit of £822m was only plugged by the Treasury raiding the capital budget earmarked for buildings, and there is no rescue in sight for the health service’s finances this year.
Figures released the two regulators, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority, show that the NHS deficit could top £2bn by the end of the year.
This £2bn deficit is not a new issue, but the continuation of a trend of declining finances at NHS Bodies since the coalition. In 2009/10 NHS Bodies – Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts – were running a nearly £2bn surplus, but each year since the situation deteriorated until 2013/14 when the NHS slipped into deficit, as the graph below shows.
These damning figures were released on Friday, following accusations that Jeremy Hunt delayed their publication until after the Conservative party conference, so they would not “overshadow” the policy changes he wanted to highlight at the event.
Labour shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander said the statistics show that Tory policies are to blame for the NHS debts. She said:
“It is now clear why these figures weren’t released ahead of Tory party conference – they show an NHS in crisis.
“The alarming deterioration in NHS finances is a direct result of actions this Government has taken.
“Cuts to nurse training places has left the NHS with a shortage of nurses, forcing hospitals to hire expensive agency staff. As Monitor acknowledges, this is the primary cause of the deficit.
“With a difficult winter approaching hospitals are facing a stark choice between balancing the books and delivering safe care.
“Ministers might be in denial, but the fact that in the first three months of this year, NHS trusts are facing a bigger financial hole than that which built up over the whole of last year is a clear sign of how desperate the funding situation has now become.”