Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector: quarter 1 2016/17


The number of NHS providers showing a financial deficit fell by 20% during the first quarter of 2016/17.

Our figures show that of the 214 providers who have signed up to control totals, 185 have met their commitments in full.

Despite it being early in the financial year, our analysis of the latest financial performance shows that NHS providers are ahead of the financial plan for the first time in over 3 years.

The provider sector is showing an overall deficit of £461 million in the quarter. This was £5 million better than the planned deficit and in marked contrast to recent years. These results also take into account £450 million of funding from the Sustainability and Transformation Fund.

Providers are tightening their financial grip and the provider pay bill – which includes agency costs – is £9.8 million better than planned. While some providers continue to overspend in areas such as agency staffing, since the agency controls were introduced in October 2015 trusts have saved around £500 million compared to predicted spend over this period. This improvement is ahead of the ‘financial reset’ which will be reflected in the next set of quarterly figures.

Quarter 1 2016/17 performance report PDF, 218.6 KB

Read the full performance report.

Quarter 1 2016/17 performance report: further underlying data PDF, 1.2 MB

Data to support the quarter 1 2016/17 report.

What our findings tell us

NHS providers have worked hard to establish a foundation to build on in the coming year – but there are still a number of financial risks, whilst still ensuring safe staffing levels to maintain high quality services. 

The figures also show another dramatic increase in demand for services and difficulties transferring people out of hospital care. This is not only causing providers to miss many already challenging targets, but also poses a further risk to getting the NHS back on a financially sustainable footing.

In the first 3 months of this financial year, there were 5.34 million attendances at England’s Accident and Emergency departments. This is a rise of over 300,000 on the same period last year. The number of patients that needed to be admitted also rose by over 6%. 

Despite the increase in the number of patients, A&E departments treated nearly 73,000 more patients within the four hour national target. Our joint programme, designed with other national bodies also saw waits for diagnostic tests fall, although further work needs to be done to enable the national target to be met consistently.

This is a crucial year for the NHS. Today’s results have demonstrated that providers are up for the challenge and are starting to get a grip on their finances. It's early days – and there is still much work to be done – but today's figures demonstrate that providers are meeting some of the ambitious plans that trusts boards have signed up to and this is a promising start to the year. 

The performance data is more disappointing. While the majority of NHS trusts are meeting the extra demand from patients and still delivering a high quality service, a small group are letting the side down. We need to support them up their game so they provide the services patients rely on.

Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement

Our findings at a glance

This infographic summaries some of our report's key findings:

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