Official figures published by regulators show the NHS provider sector forecasting a £873m year-end deficit, against the maximum “control total” of £580m.

As revealed by HSJ last week, NHS Improvement confirmed that initial figures submitted by trusts had summed to a combined deficit of £973m for 2016-17, and that this was reduced by £100m following discussions between the regulator and trust boards.

The year-to-date deficit stands at £886m, which is £202m worse than planned.

NHS Improvement’s quarter three report said increased pressure on emergency services caused “one of the toughest winters on record”, and resulted in thousands of escalation beds being open each day and the loss of elective income due to cancelled operations.

It added: “Reflecting these challenges, providers’ initial forecast at Q3 2016-17 was a full year deficit of £973m, which is over £300m worse than the forecast outturn at Q2.

“Through an intensive review period, NHS Improvement and providers worked closely together on the initial forecast to gain a better understanding of the risks, and where possible mitigate some of the pressure and/or identify any upside opportunities…

“Despite the extra effort, the current forecast deficit remains significantly higher than that planned. This is both unaffordable and unsustainable. NHS Improvement will continue to support all providers in Q4, especially those who have identified downside risks and hold their delivery to account.

“We expect that a number of short term actions will be deployed to generate a positive outcome for the sectors’ forecast.”

The report said actions are being followed up that could result in the year-end deficit being between £750m and £850m, including “a number of land and property transactions and some commercially sensitive initiatives”.

It added: “It is recognised that some of the financial improvement will be through technical solutions and is non-recurrent.”

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