Hospitals across Yorkshire are facing debts of more than £100 million, triggering fears NHS finances are plunging into crisis.
Latest figures reveal 12 out of 15 NHS trusts running hospitals serving Yorkshire are in the red after the first six months of the financial year, with six now predicting they will face significant deficits by the end of March.
Officials blame growing difficulties on extra costs of additional doctors and nurses in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, years of real-terms cuts in funding and rising demand for care.
Five NHS trusts - Barnsley, Leeds, Mid Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole and South Tees - had already predicted deficits for 2014-15 but worsening problems across the sector mean overspending is now likely to exceed £100m.
Managers at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole trust describe its financial position as “significantly distressed”. A projected £5.9m deficit is now forecast to be £15.5m by March. Unless the position improves, officials are warning of intervention by regulators and a need for emergency loans next spring.
Managers at the Calderdale and Huddersfield trust yesterday revealed they face a £4.3m in deficit by March. Original plans to cut costs by £19.5m are likely to be £10m short of target.
The biggest debts topping £40m will be at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Only three trusts - Airedale, Bradford, and Doncaster and Bassetlaw - are reporting healthy finances
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “Everywhere you look, there are signs of an NHS now heading rapidly in the wrong direction. The main reason why the NHS in Yorkshire is in such a fragile financial position is because of David Cameron’s disastrous decision to break his promise of ‘no top-down re-organisation’. This is why the Prime Minister is losing public trust with the NHS.”
Elizabeth Wade, of the NHS Confederation which represents trusts, said hospitals were worst hit by funding problems and extra cash for 2015-16 was needed.
“The strain on local health economies is obvious and generally this will be shown up most prominently at hospitals, particularly in their emergency departments,” she said.
Marcus Hassell, director of finance at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole trust, said: “The income position remains volatile across the wider health system and this is causing financial stress for many NHS organisations.”
Keith Griffiths, finance director at Calderdale and Huddersfield, said it had faced a “challenging” financial position for some time. He added: “This year, the trust has also made significant investment in nursing, midwifery and A&E consultant cover, to improve safety, access and quality of care.”
The Department of Health said: “We understand some trusts are facing challenges because of increasing demand but they must have a tight financial grip and ensure they live within their means. Delivering high quality services and balancing the books must go hand in hand and we expect trusts to deliver this during the course of the financial year.”