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£6bn deficit warning sparks ‘horrible’ demands for nationwide cuts

Local NHS organisations are facing intense “pressure” from NHS England’s national and regional teams to cut staffing numbers to improve the service’s financial outlook for 2024-25. 

Multiple sources have told HSJ that first draft financial returns submitted by the 42 integrated care systems indicate a combined deficit of around £6bn for the service.

The £6bn figure is likely to fall substantially as NHS England meets individually with integrated care systems with the worst numbers.

The need to reduce the number is prompting “horrible” conversations about service cuts, according to HSJ sources. One local leader in the South East region said the need to reduce staffing numbers constituted a “very significant part of the pushback on first-cut numbers”.

A senior source in the Midlands added: “We’ve got virtually no workforce growth in our plan now… and we’ve still got a deficit. To get to breakeven we’d have to be looking at quite a significant workforce reduction.”

Another leader in the South of the country said there was “big pressure” to get down to pre-pandemic staff numbers, “despite [the] increases in acuity, demand and backlogs as a consequence of covid”.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 18 March 2024


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