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Half of areas forced to cancel or delay spending to meet financial targets

Half of areas forced to cancel or delay spending to meet financial targets

Half of CCGs are planning to delay or cancel spending this year to meet financial targets, a survey of financial managers has revealed
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Half of CCGs are planning to delay or cancel spending this year to meet financial targets, a survey of financial managers has revealed.

The King’s Fund’s latest quarterly monitoring report found that 50% of CCG finance leads say that achieving this year’s financial forecast is likely to depend on delaying or cancelling spending, with only one in five confident that they can balance the books this year.

The survey, which questioned 42 finance leads covering 50 areas, also found that over 40% plan to review to reduce the level of planned treatment that they commission.

In addition, just under half of CCGs said they were concerned about their ability to increase funding for mental health services in line with the national commitments.

This follows a recent investigation by our sister publication Pulse, which found that five areas are planning to spend less on mental health services next year than they did this year, despite national commitments to increase spending.

The report also asked trust finance directors about secondary care funding, finding that more than half of trust finance directors expect to have ended the year in surplus.

But the authors concluded that the ‘underlying financial position remains gloomy’ as trusts increasingly rely on one-off actions such as land sales and sustainability and transformation fund payments to meet their targets.

Richard Murray, director of policy for The King’s Fund, said CCG leaders will have to make ‘tough decisions about priorities’ which will have a direct impact on patient care.

He said: ‘This reinforces the underlying reality that demand for services is continuing to outstrip the rate at which the NHS budget is growing.’

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said the findings represent a ‘disgraceful failure of our patients’ as financial targets take priority over patient care.

‘Our health and social care systems can no longer cope without urgent action. In the run-up to the general election, we are calling on politicians of all parties not to duck this crisis any longer.

‘This means, as a minimum, immediately bringing investment in line with other leading European countries and outlining credible, long-term plans that will safeguard the future of the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’

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