Findings from a quarterly monitoring report by the King’s Fund think tank show that of 47 CCG finance directors polled, 26% are concerned or very concerned that their organisation will fail to achieve financial balance in 2014/15.
A total of 40% were concerned that their CCG could end the 2015/16 year in the red.
The findings show ‘deepening pessimism about the ability of the NHS to make ends meet financially’, the think tank warned.
Pessimism has also deepened among NHS finance directors about the prospects of the health service as a whole hitting savings targets this year.
Productivity target at risk
Eight out of 10 finance directors across CCGs and hospital trusts believe there is a high or very high risk that the NHS will fail to meet its £20bn productivity savings target by the end of 2014/15, the report said.
Fears about financial problems in 2015/16 are based largely on concerns over the impact of implementation of the Better Care Fund, which will see an additional £1.9bn transfer from the NHS to support integrated health and social care.
The report found that nationally the NHS had kept within a target for no more than 5% of A&E patients to wait more than four hours, but that 360,000 more patients were waiting for treatment in January 2014 than a year before.
King’s Fund policy director Richard Murray said: ‘The NHS has coped well during the winter and avoided the A&E crisis that was so widely predicted. However, as the implications for hospitals of implementing the Better Care Fund sink in, there is a growing recognition that the NHS will face a financial crisis in 2015/16, if not before. It is now certain that the next government will need to find more funding for the NHS or accept significant cuts to services.'