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Hospital overspending increases, official figures show

Hospital overspending increases, official figures show


Increasing numbers of hospital trusts are overspending their budgets in order to hire more frontline staff, government figures show. 

A total of 34,000 additional NHS staff have been hired since the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire hospitals. 

However, in 2013/14, sixty-five hospitals overspent their budgets, compared to 45 trusts in 2012/13.

According to the Department of Health’s annual accounts, the yearly refund given back to the Treasury shrunk from £2.2 billion to £400 million this year. 

Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health wrote in the foreword: “2013/14 was a challenging year for the department and the NHS given the context of austerity and growing demand for services, as well as being the first year of reforms to the management infrastructure of the NHS. 

“Realistically, we recognise that the environment will continue to be challenging as we make plans for the next spending review in 2015.” 

 Thinktank the Health Foundation said that the biggest issue in 2013/14 was increased staff costs, as hospitals recruited more doctors, nurses and other frontline staff in response to the Francis report. 

Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Health Foundation said: “Overall it’s difficult to see how the NHS can end 2014/15 without another significant increase in the pay bill. 

“However skilful the finance managers are this year, it’s unlikely that they can repeat the feat. The challenge for the NHS is that it really needs to deliver on the system efficiencies that have proved so elusive.  Without this the only option is to slash hospital costs – post Francis that is looking less and less feasible.” 

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, blamed the coalition's unpopular NHS shake-up of the NHS last year.

He told the Guardian: "Everywhere you look, there are signs of an NHS now heading rapidly in the wrong direction. David Cameron chose the worst possible moment to pull the rug from under the NHS with a huge reorganisation that nobody wanted. It has thrown NHS finances off course – trusts are increasingly struggling to keep their heads above water."


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