Growing gap between rich and poor trusts
An audit of NHS organisations’ 2011-12 accounts has found a widening gap between the trusts with healthy finances and those that are struggling.
The Audit Commission’s report NHS Financial Year 2011-12 finds that most trusts and primary care trusts reported an improved financial position last year. “However,” it warns, “there is a growing difference between those organisations that are struggling financially and those that are not.”
Thirty-one NHS trusts or foundation trusts recorded deficits last year, up from 13 in 2010-11. The financial performance of the 10 NHS trusts that reported deficits deteriorated by £110m during the year.
This polarisation is also illustrated by a table in the report showing those non-FTs with signs of financial difficulty or weakness in their 2011-12 accounts.
Trusts and PCTs are given a black mark if they failed to break even for the year; received additional funding for “strategic change and financial support”; received public dividend capital; received a working capital loan; or received a qualified value-for-money conclusion from auditors.
In the commission’s 2010-11 report only one trust had black marks against four of those five categories. In its latest report, four trusts are given four black marks. They are Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals; Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals; South London Healthcare; and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare.
The 2011-12 report also highlights “stark geographical differences” in NHS finances, with London being “the most notable example”. The capital had “both the largest surplus and the largest deficit”, it states.
Audit Commission managing director of health Andy McKeon said the DH and regulators should focus on “organisations whose financial position is deteriorating, and on their geographical distribution and service standards”.