Yorkshire hospitals had £90m in funds withheld after missing targets

Fears have been raised of the 'impossible' task facing Yorkshire's cash-strapped hospitals after millions of pounds in NHS funding was withheld due to tough performance targets being missed.

NHS trusts across the county saw around £90m in performance-linked funding held back in the last financial year, The Yorkshire Post can today reveal.

Around £50m of the withheld cash was cash which hospitals were hoping to receive from the Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Fund (STF).

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The £1.8bn fund was launched to help NHS trusts improve their finances, but is dependent on meeting strict budgets agreed with the health service regular NHS Improvement.

Hospital leaders have raised fears that withholding payments from the fund will see cash-trapped hospitals plunged even further into the red.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, emerged as hospitals are being asked to agree to budget targets for the coming financial year.

Phillippa Hentsch, head of analysis for NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: “Last year many providers missed out on crucial STF funding due to financial and performance pressures. Although this funding stayed within the NHS, this meant some trusts missed out on additional resources.

“NHS finances remain under severe pressure.

“Trusts are being asked to make significant savings, at the same time as meet additional patient demand and ensure that their financial position stabilises. On current funding levels, this puts a near impossible task ahead of providers for the year ahead.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The NHS continues to work incredibly hard to manage its finances while facing increased patient demand, and NHS trusts up and down the country continue to demonstrate that sustainable improvements to financial performance and patient services go hand in hand. We recognise the challenges presented by increased demand, which is why the NHS was given £1.6bn for 2018-19, on top of a planned £10bn a year increase in its budget by 2020-21.”

The Department pointed out that Yorkshire NHS trusts had received £200m of STF funding over the last two years.