Free Healthcare Questioned as Figures Show Record Hospitals Overspend


Free universal healthcare is under scrutiny after hospitals reported a record overspend.
Figures show that NHS providers overspent by £2.45 billion in 2015-16 and this has led senior health officials to question the long-term viability of free universal healthcare.
It has also been reported by health experts that Jeremy Hunt may have to request emergency funding from Chancellor George Osborne within a matter of weeks, increasing the chance of Treasury officials seizing control of some hospital trusts.
The figures also show that the deficit with NHS providers tripled in the last 12 months, however the Nuffield Trust argue that these are flattered figures due to the complex accounting practices used by the Government. Their think tank insisted that a more realistic estimate of the deficit would be over £3.2 billion.
The body that oversees foundation trusts, NHS Improvement, revealed that health providers used around £3.64 billion on contract and agency staff in 2015-16, almost £1.5 billion more than they planned for.
However, health experts have warned that the deficit was because of basic issued of service demand rising at a faster rate than funding.
Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, Richard Murray, said that this scale of overspending cannot be blamed on inefficiency in individual trusts or mismanagement, rather the figures indicate that the health system cannot cope under such operational and financial pressures.
Murray also said that performance in line with key targets was worsening and that there are widespread fears about the quality of care.
NHS Improvement reported that in the period of January to March 2016, providers as a whole failed to meet the required waiting time in Accident and Emergency departments of seeing 95% of patients in the first four hours of arrival.
They also reported an increasing number of patients on the routine operations waiting list, which has now reached approximately 3.34 million and is in breach of official standards.

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