By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
Official figures released by NHS Improvement have shown that NHS trust in England, closed 2015-16 financial year, £461m worse off than had been forecasted.
This means that we now have a record deficit in England of £2.45bn, the largest in its history. The health service is trying to cope with a large rise in demand and budget constraints, leaving it with this dire financial black hole.
NHS financial experts claim the full scale of the overspend may be much higher but has been squirreled away with clever accounting tricks.
The total deficit is nearly three times as much as the £822m overspend in 14/15 and over twenty times the £115m deficit in 2013-14.
The government had said that the deficit should be no more than £1.8bn this year, but that figure was well below the actual amount.
The NHS now needs to find £700m to bridge the funding gap.
NHS finance experts said the true scale of the deficit was much worse than the £2.45bn but had been masked by accounting methods. Around £1bn originally earmarked for capital spending last year was actually switched into the NHS’s resource budget to help cover normal running costs.
Tom Kibasi, director of the IPPR thinktank called for an investigation by the National Audit Office to discover the NHS’s true financial situation.
The junior doctors’ dispute may be coming to an end, but the funding problems in the NHS are more acute than ever. There are fears that the health service will simply not be financially viable in the years to come.
As people in the UK live longer, even more strain is put on a health service already struggling to cope. The next stage must be a way to plug this deficit gap or at least reduce it to a manageable level.