Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector: quarter 1 2018/19

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The start of the financial year saw frontline staff cope with record A&E attendances, high bed occupancy levels and improved discharge rates. The sector ended the quarter £814 million in deficit – £22m better than planned at the beginning of the year but £78m worse than the same quarter last year.

Key findings

  • despite intense operational pressure, NHS staff saw more people in under four hours than in the same period last year

  • freeing bed capacity will improve providers’ ability to perform elective work and prepare for winter

  • results are mixed on performance standards for planned care

  • operational pressures continue to have a material impact on NHS finances

  • agency spend remains under control, but there are high levels of vacancies that are difficult to fill

  • providers are achieving significant savings but below ambitious cost improvement targets, and their continued focus on productivity is critical 

  • despite constrained capital funds, major improvements in patient facilities were given the go-ahead

  • staff vacancies are increasing and are forecast to rise more throughout the year

"Staff are working extremely hard to cope with a rise in A&E attendances and high occupancy levels.

A&Es up and down the country have been successful in treating more patients than ever before within four hours. We are helping trusts ensure that no-one stays in hospital longer than they need to, so that beds are free for other patients who urgently need them.”

Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement

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