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Key questions around NHS overspend

The NHS has overspent by £886 million in the first nine months of the financial year.

Here are some key questions around the figures.

:: What's going wrong?

To be fair to the NHS, the overspend is nothing like the £2.45 billion year-end figure reported the previous year.

Huge efforts have been made to get the overspend down and it has reduced, although NHS trusts are highly likely to miss the target for a £580 million year-end deficit.

Bosses are blaming winter pressures for the performance, with rising demand for A&E and hospital services meaning costs were higher.

Planned operations also had to be cancelled to make way for emergency cases. This meant income from doing routine operations such as hip replacements was down.

The NHS also spends way more on expensive agency staff than bosses would like, although that figure is reducing.

:: Should the NHS be given more money?

Some health organisations argue that the NHS is woefully underfunded, while the Government maintains it service has received all the money it asked for.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has said an extra £10 billion was being made available to NHS England over six years, but overall the health service had "got less" than set out in its five-year plan.

He added that it would be "stretching it to say we got more than we asked for", adding that in real terms, NHS spending is going to go down.

He has also contradicted Government officials who say total spending on health is around the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mr Stevens said the OECD includes countries like Mexico, and Britain spends less than countries it compares itself to, including 30% less per head than Germany.

:: What about social care?

There is no denying that social care is having a huge impact on the NHS.

A failure to ensure enough support packages in the community, of the right type, means elderly people have to stay in hospital even when they are medically fit to leave.

Experts say the crisis in social care puts pressure on the NHS at the front end.

A lack of community services and safeguards means that people are far more likely to end up going to A&E or to need hospital treatment, increasing pressure and costs for the NHS.

The Government is attempting to better integrate health and social care as one way of easing pressure on the NHS.

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