More NHS trusts battle with finance
An increasing number of NHS organisations are struggling with their finances, a report suggests, after it found the number of trusts and foundation trusts running a deficit more than doubled in just one year.
While NHS finances are healthy overall, the number of trusts which are running a deficit rose from 13 in 2010/11 to 31 in 2011/12, according to the Audit Commission report.
Thirty-nine NHS trusts reported a poorer financial position in 2011/12 than in the previous year and 18 NHS trusts and foundation trusts received financial support from the Department of Health, the report states.
In 2011/12, the NHS as a whole made £1.6 billion in efficiency savings and a large number of trusts reported an improved financial position.
Andy McKeon, managing director of health at the Audit Commission, said: "The Department of Health and other relevant national authorities need to focus their attention on the minority of organisations whose financial position is deteriorating, and on their geographical distribution and service standards."
The NHS organisation with the highest deficit is South London Health Care Trust - which was put under the care of a special administrator earlier this year for being on the brink of bankruptcy.
The trust, which provides care for patients living in the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich, was the first trust to be put on an "unsustainable providers regime" because it was losing £1 million a week.
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "This is the time for the NHS Commissioning Board to help providers, not with bailouts, but by releasing money to new clinical commissioning groups so they can work with providers to help put them on a sustainable footing by changing the type and range of services they provide."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know the NHS is facing even greater pressures, not least from rising demand and costs.
"That's why we are investing an extra £12.5 billion in the NHS, modernising it and improving efficiency while at the same time improving choice for patients to drive up the quality of patient care."