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Trusts pessimistic about meeting 2015 savings target

According to the King’s Fund’s latest Quarterly Monitoring Report only 1 in 10 NHS Finance Directors asked thought the chances of the health service meeting its £20bn savings target by 2015 were better than 50/50.

The survey of Trust Finance Directors and CCG Finance Leads also found that the number of Trusts expecting to meet their own cost improvement targets for 2013/14 has fallen from nearly 75% a year ago to just 33% now.
CCGs, however, remain more optimistic on their own organisation’s ability to hit cost targets, with 72% of commissioners expecting to succeed.

Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist at The King’s Fund, said: “The findings from our survey of Finance Directors have become significantly more pessimistic over the past 12 months, reflecting the growing pressures on the NHS. Now just over half way through the so-called Nicholson Challenge, it is clear the NHS will struggle to meet its £20bn productivity target, with potentially serious consequences for patient care. The reality for many hospitals is that they face an uncomfortable choice between whether to prioritise the quality of services for patients or allow performance in some areas to slip in order to balance the books.”

Elsewhere in the monitoring report, A&E remains problematic, with 241,000 patients (4.3%) spending four or more hours in A&E during the quarter. The King’s Fund said: “Although this is back within target range, it is the highest level for this quarter since 2004. With 61 hospitals breaching the Government’s target, this reinforces the challenge the NHS faces in managing pressures in A&E over the coming winter, despite the new funding announced by the Secretary of State.”

There is better news on infections, with the number of C difficile and MRSA cases continuing to fall, while waiting times for treatment and the number of delayed transfers of care both remain ‘stable’.