NHS Improvement (NHSI) has released its first quarterly report for the financial year 2018/19. The report states that the provider sector is forecasting the year to end on plan, however this includes a current planned annual deficit of £519 million. As a result, the document focuses on three areas in order to reduce the deficit over the rest of 2018/19: long stays in hospital, high bed occupancy and cost improvements.
Key points from the report include:
- There were 23 million accident and emergency (A&E) admissions, an increase of 3.7% from the same quarter last year. Of these, 1.14 million were emergency admissions, up 6.2 % on last year
- Compared to last year, there were 74,863 fewer bed days, the equivalent of freeing over 800 beds to compensate for the increase in emergency admissions. However, the report notes that the ambition is to free up even more capacity via reductions in long-stay patients (a length of stay longer than 3 weeks), in preparation for winter
- There are 108,000 current workforce vacancies, equivalent to around 9,000 full-time staff. Vacant nursing posts increased by around 17% since quarter four last year, with 41,722 nursing vacancies in total. Earlier this month, NHSI issued a call to reduce expenditure by reducing dependency on agency staff, who on average cost 20% more than staff-banks
- Costing improvements last year saved £3.2 billion. This year, the target increased to £3.6 billion total savings, a 0.4% target increase in efficiency savings for total expenditure
NHSI’s quarterly report follows on from the annual report released by NHS Resolution, recently rebranded from the NHS litigation authority (NHSLA) which shows £2.23 billion was paid out to successful litigation claimants in 2017/18, an increase of 31% from the previous year.