The National Health Service is in deep financial trouble.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has a big financial problem that is only getting worse, as its deficit expected to reach its worst ever low point by the end of the year.
Authorities expect the deficit to reach £2.8 billion ($4 billion in U.S. currency) by the end of the year — that would be triple last year’s figure, according to a Daily Mail report.
The NHS has overspent £2.3 billion this year already with a full quarter left in the financial year, and the deficit could have a major impact on hospitals, with 132 of 138 trusts in England in the negative. Last year, the deficit was £664 million.
A major cause of the dilemma appears to be hospitals who opt for expensive agency doctors and nurses to make up for staffing shortages, which can cost up to £2,200 per day for an agency nurse and £3,200 for a doctor.
But the chief cause of the financial crisis is a population that is getting increasingly older and thus needs more care. The concern is that the crisis may cause the trusts to cut back on spending and thus reduce the quality of care given to the elderly, as well as lead to longer wait times for operations.
Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, acknowledged the problem and called it “disappointing.” However, he said that providers are “making progress” in getting their financial houses in order.
The National Health Services covers the four countries of the United Kingdom, providing publicly funded health care to the population. The services were founded in 1948. Each system operates independently and is accountable separately to the governments of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England. The services employ 1.6 million people and has a combined budget of approximately £136.7 billion.