Warnings over NHS cash crisis as hospitals plunge into debt

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WARNINGS of a worsening NHS financial crisis increased yesterday after it emerged scores of hospitals are plunging into debt.

Elite foundation trusts posted an overall deficit between April and June for the first time since they were set up a decade ago, with 86 out of 147 trusts a total of £227 million in the red.

Analysis by The Yorkshire Post suggests only two of the 15 NHS trusts running hospitals in the region were in balance over the period - Bradford, and Doncaster and Bassetlaw. Five are certain to be in the red by the end of March, with the £42m forecast deficit at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust among the biggest in England.

Unprecedented demand, recruitment of more staff to improve standards and action to hit waiting list targets are being blamed for the crisis.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “The NHS is heading rapidly in the wrong direction. David Cameron must take urgent action to stabilise the deteriorating situation - patients fear much worse will be in store next year.”

British Medical Association chairman Mark Porter said: “This is extremely worrying and shows just how much pressure hospitals are under. Unless urgent action is taken to put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing it simply won’t be able to cope and patients will suffer.”

The Department of Health said: “Delivering high quality services and balancing the books must go hand in hand and we expect trusts to achieve this during the course of the financial year or there will be tough consequences.”