Hospitals face a £750m deficit in cash crisis

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The Yorkshire Post is to hold a public debate on the future of hospital care in the region amid worsening financial pressures and growing demands mainly due to an ageing population.

Analysis by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) found 66 NHS hospital trusts are forecasting a deficit for this financial year, 10 think they will break even and 58 are forecasting surpluses.

The magazine obtained figures from all but six of England’s 140 hospital trusts by asking for the most recent forecast or examining their financial plans.

They found the 66 trusts predicting to be in the red were forecasting a combined deficit of £940m. The gross surplus projected by the other trusts was just £167m. This would mean an overall deficit of £773m.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last week that Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is projecting a £42m deficit in 2014-15 - said to be the third highest in England. The forecast comes only if it achieves £54m in savings and it expects to remain in the red until 2017-18.

Four of the 14 other hospital trusts serving the region are also certain to be in deficit - South Tees, with a deficit of £29m, the Wakefield-based Mid Yorkshire trust, with debts of £17m, Barnsley, with debts of £12m, and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole which is predicting a deficit of £6m.

Warnings are also being issued about deteriorating finances at another six trusts in the region.

Many are facing significant difficulties due to a recruitment drive for more nurses in the wake of the report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

Last month the King’s Fund think tank warned that NHS finances have been “stretched to the limit”. Yesterday its policy director Richard Murray told HSJ that it was “increasingly likely” that the NHS would need more money next year.

Meanwhile the Health Foundation’s chief economist Anita Charlesworth said the recruitment drive could have contributed to the dire finances predicted for this year.

“We are seeing a rapid deterioration of finances as a result of fundamental underlying factors,” she said. “Many trusts started recruiting more nurses last autumn so they are going to see the full year costs for the first time in 2014-15.”

She said a national strategy to deal with cash problems was focused on a small number of NHS hospitals and there was no plan from regulators for the whole sector facing a problem.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “The primary responsibility for engaging with trusts facing financial challenges lies with the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) and Monitor.

“NHS England works closely with the TDA and Monitor at a national level, and at a local level, NHS England area teams and clinical commissioning groups will, as the commissioners of services, be working with trusts to ensure that services meet the needs of patients now and in the future.”