Health Care

NHS facing 'mission impossible next year'

NHS facing 'mission impossible next year'

Trusts are now grappling with a 2.1 per cent increase in costs such as staff salaries, he said, while preparing for a funding increase next year of only 1.3 per cent compared to 3.6 per cent this year.

NHS Providers latest report says hospitals are set for a funding increase of 2.6% in 2017/18, but that will not be enough to cope with a 5.2% increase in demand for treatment.

The NHS will also have to pay an extra £2.4-£3.1 billion to cover the extra cost of delivering against performance targets such as A&E and routine operations.

"All on a 1.3% funding NHS England funding increase, down from this year's 3.6% increase".

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"We fear that patient safety is increasingly at risk". The report found that on the current performance trajectory, next year 1.8 million people in A&E services would fall outside of the target of 95% of patients being seen in four hours - over half a million people more than this year.

Chief executive Chris Hopson said it was time for the government to "sit up and listen".

For the first time, the trusts have warned - even before the financial year begins next month - that hundreds of thousands of patients will not be treated in A&E within the government's target of four hours and will have to wait longer than the 18 weeks stipulated for surgery.

The combination of trying to reach these targets in addition to funding reductions is something that is now "mission impossible", Hopson explained. "The numbers don't add up". "But trusts can only deliver if funding keeps pace with rapidly rising demand".

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"NHS trusts will strain every sinew to deliver the commitments made for the health service".

Combined with a demand to rein in "slipping" waiting time targets for accident and emergency and routine operations and a forecast rise in demand for services, Mr Hopson said: "Take all this together and it's mission impossible".

"Given that demand and cost increases will easily outstrip funding and efficiency increases, just reproducing this year's financial performance is a stretching target".

A Department of Health spokeswoman said extra money was being invested in the NHS and pointed out the Budget had set aside more funding for social care, which would also help relieve the pressures on hospitals in particular.

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"If we are to maximise the use of NHS resources, plan properly, treat staff fairly and be straight with the public".