Emergency funds of £300m have been made available to NHS England by the Department of Health, due to fears that the system may not be able to cope with the increased demand over the winter.
The fears were prompted by an October which, despite mild weather, saw the number of waiting time targets missed hit a higher level than at any point last winter.
The £300m cash boost brings the total budget for this winter to £700m – 75% more than was available last year – but is it enough?
A quick look at the financial reports of the NHS Trust Development Authority shows us that the hole in the NHS’s bank account is pretty deep.
These data do not include NHS Foundation Trusts, as these are not overseen by the NHS Trust Development Authority.
The three worst performing Trusts last winter – Barts Health NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – were forecast in January to pull themselves out of the red by now.
Instead, they’ve slipped even further into debt, and remain top of the deficit pile this year.
With massive budget deficits like these being repeated year after year, a £300 million emergency top-up looks less like an important intervention, and more like putting a sticking plaster over a haemorrhaging artery.
This article originally appeared on nhsshakeup.co.uk – find it here.