Health service finance chiefs are not confident that the NHS’ Five Year Forward View is achievable or that their organisations can deliver the efficiency savings needed to plug the gaping hole in funds, a survey by the Healthcare Financial Management Association has found.
Eighty-four percent of 200 finance directors surveyed for the Association’s NHS Financial Temperature Check say they don’t have enough cash to implement the plan without extra support, while 88% said they lack confidence that their organisation can deliver the 2%-3% yearly productivity needed to address the expected £22-billion gap in NHS funding.
Forty-six percent also said they were not confident that the $5-billion in savings outlined in Lord Carter's plan can be made, nor that new care models put forward by the 5YFV will be able to deliver the necessary financial benefits, with 57% saying ‘no’ and 42% uncertain.
Furthermore, 43% said they didn’t think the NHS would be able to continue to deliver current levels of care quality even with the extra annual £8 billion promised by the government, while 56% said in order to secure continued quality levels the extra funding must be front-loaded.
The findings come amid surging concerns over the NHS’ financial position, with trusts reporting a combined £930 million deficit for the first three months of 2015/16, more than that reported for the whole of the previous year.
This deterioration is echoed in findings of the HFMA’s survey, with all responding acute trusts now predicting a year-end deficit, compared to 77% four months ago, and 66% of all trusts (including non-acute trusts) forecasting a 2015/16 deficit, up from 63%.
Paul Briddock, Director of Policy at HFMA, stressed that the report shows that “it’s time to think about what Plan B is, if all else fails.”
“With just days left before the Spending Review, finance directors are telling us they’re not confident in the current plans and need more clarity,” he said. “While they’re not convinced the promised £8bn in funding is sufficient to address the whole financial problem, it’s clear it is needed now and many want to know if it will come with conditions attached to it. Providers also need realistic efficiency targets with adequate funding for the new demands and cost pressures facing them”.