NHS trusts are more positive about meeting their financial targets in 2019/20 than they were last year, a survey by NHS Providers has shown.
The membership organisation, which collected responses from 99 trusts, said it believes more trusts will this year agree their control total – a financial target set for each trust by NHS Improvement – compared to last year.
NHS Providers attributes this to a series of changes made to NHS finances to support the financial recovery of the provider sector. These include an ‘extra £1bn for emergency care, a new £1bn financial recovery fund and a strengthened mental health investment standard’.
Presented in the 2019/20 task for providers report, the findings show that only 13% of trusts overall said they cannot sign up to their control total, while 28% are unsure – an improvement on last year’s figures, when 18% said they would not sign up and 29% were unsure.
However, the report also highlighted some concerns. Almost a third, 29%, of community trust providers who replied to the survey said they would not sign up to their 2019/20 control total.
This, the report said, is because community services funded by local authorities haven’t received the money necessary ‘to meet the costs of the required Agenda for Change pay rises for their staff on those terms and conditions’.
An anonymous survey respondent said: ‘Currently there is no clarity of funding of NHS pay award for services commissioned by non-NHS commissioners, such as local authorities. This is a £1.7m hit to my trust and if not funded it would not be possible to hit the control total.’
The report also found that some trusts think their financial targets for 2019/20 would be difficult to meet.
However, the report said that according to NHS Improvement this is because some trusts failed to reach a sufficient level of savings during the previous financial year, which is having a negative impact on their budgets.
The report outlined seven ways in which NHS trusts can be helped to achieve financial balance. Among other recommendations, NHS Providers said the Government should fully fund the Agenda for Change pay rises for trusts with local authority community contracts.
Commenting on the report, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said the additional funding allocated to the NHS will help providers improve their financial position.
He said: ‘Our members are feeling more positive than in previous years about their finances and are doing all they can to successfully deliver their control totals.
‘But finances do remain very tight. No-one should pretend that the 2019/20 financial task will be easy to deliver and there are some important issues that national system leaders will need to address to ensure appropriate delivery of the required financial improvement.’