The Health Foundation today responded to the publication of NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report for the first quarter of 2017/18.

Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said: ‘There has been welcome progress on lowering the deficits of NHS trusts. However, long-term financial sustainability remains at risk without further investment, especially if total spend per head falls next year as planned. 

‘As always, the increased demands of winter represent a major risk to this year’s financial plans, but the longer-term challenge will be to continue to make savings in the face of flatlining investment.

‘While it is encouraging that NHS provider deficits are falling, this has only been possible through large amounts of capital investment funding being used to fund day to day running costs rather than the long-term investments it is intended for. The NHS is building up a large backlog of maintenance needs and is less able to invest in vital new equipment and facilities.

‘The reduction in the agency staff bill of a fifth is an impressive achievement by NHS trusts, but the increase in bank staff suggests there is still a reliance on short-term staffing solutions. It has been clear for some time that decisions about workforce are made in a piecemeal way, with no coordinated long-term vision to secure the future NHS workforce – something that is even more vital following the impact of Brexit on international recruitment.’

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