Hospital Foundation Trusts need ‘up their game’ financially to deliver savings and safeguard standards.
In a recent study on Foundation Trusts (FT), health watchdog Monitor reported a higher-than-expected number of trusts currently in deficit, demanding the organisations ‘up their game’ to ensure standards are maintained.
Two-thirds of the country’s hospitals are currently Foundation Trusts and operate outside the government’s direction, free to make independent decisions on their budgets and management. Foundation Trusts retain any budget surplus each year and are able to borrow money for investment in new and improved services.
The report into trusts recenlty undertaken by the health watchdog revealed that 39 of 147 are currently reporting a budget deficit, with the combined figure reaching £180m – 6.6% higher than Monitor had predicted.
Monitor also revealed that 60% of the deficit was concentrated across five organisations already facing regulatory action, with the Midlands area being branded as the most “financially challenged” in the country.
While the majority of trusts remain financially in surplus, their combined annual surplus of £135m is still lower than the planned £173m, and just half of that reported this time last year.
Jason Dorsett, financial reporting director at Monitor, said: “The financial trust sector is doing remarkable well in touch circumstances, but is looking a little frayed around the edges.”
While the trusts have delivered £867m of efficiency savings this year, the figure is still £185m below the sum Monitor expected by this point.
“All trusts need to up their game in delivering efficiency savings this year in order to maintain and improve the quality of care for patients, and ensure the sustainability of services,” said Dorsett.
While the government has confirmed they will offer support to those trusts struggling financially, it was quickly stressed that money should not be seen as the key to better care.
“We are putting recovery plans in the place for any trust in financial difficulty, but as the culture within our NHS changes, we do not accept that delivering safe and compassionate care in the longer term costs more money,” said a spokesman.