The NHS is financially unsustainable unless there is a “radical” change in the way that services are provided, according to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
The number of NHS trusts in England in debt has nearly trebled in 12 months: between 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 the number of trusts in deficit went up from 10% to 26%, say the MPs. And 80% of acute trusts are already in the red just six months into the new financial year, their report into the financial sustainability of the NHS in England published on 3 February 2015 highlights.
The overall NHS net surplus in England fell from £2.1bn in 2012–2013 to £722m in 2013–2014.
The MPs make five recommendations to turn NHS finances around. They include the collection of consistent data so that cost saving targets can be made and new models of care — which could include making better use of pharmacists to manage minor illnesses — can be assessed to see if they are actually saving money.
MPs also recommend that NHS trusts should only employ agency staff according to national contract terms unless they can demonstrate they offer value for money. Alternative financing options for private finance initiative schemes should be explored and the NHS should sell off any surplus capital assets, the MPs say.