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NHS Confederation comment on Audit Commission report on NHS finances

Jo Webber said the figures showed NHS leaders are starting out from a strong position to achieve the £20billion savings required of them, but pressure will increase in the years to come.

Commenting on the Audit Commission's report, NHS Financial Year 2010/11, NHS Confederation deputy director of policy Jo Webber said the figures showed NHS leaders were starting out from a strong position to achieve the £20billion savings required of them, but pressure will increase in the years to come.

She said:

"These figures show that many NHS leaders have got their organisations on a strong footing to achieve the £20 billion savings required of them. But they are worried that this could be the calm before the storm. Many of our members have told us they are expecting the financial situation facing their organisations to be the worst they have ever experienced.

"There is pressure on finances now, and pressure mounting down the line. With tighter finances, it will be harder to maintain the progress we have made on the quality of care and getting our books in order. It will require NHS trusts and commissioners to look at doing things differently, and more efficiently.

"The real test will be over the next 18 months. We need to support NHS leaders to make tough decisions on changes that deliver the right services for patients. We need politicians to get behind plans for new approaches to improving local services that have the best possible care at the top of their agenda.

"Without this support, services will struggle to change and improve, and patients will be the losers."

The NHS Confederation surveyed 287 chief executive and chairs across the NHS in June 2011. It found that 82 per cent of those surveyed said they did not expect to overspend their budgets over the next 12 months. However, 42 per cent said the financial situation facing their organisation was "the worst they had ever experienced", while an additional 47 per cent said it was "very serious".

More than two thirds of those surveyed thought financial pressures would increase over the next three years (67 per cent over three years/70 per cent over the next 12 months), with 39 per cent saying it would "increase significantly".

Notes to Editors

1. The NHS Confederation is the only body to bring together the full range of organisations that make up the modern NHS. We are an independent membership organisation that represents all types of providers and commissioners of NHS services in England. We also represent trusts and health care boards in Wales; and health and social service trusts and boards in Northern Ireland.

2. Further details of the survey responses of NHS chief executives and chairs can be accessed on our website

3. Contact Francesca Reville 020 7074 3312 or Niall Smith 020 7074 3304. For out of hours media enquiries, please call the Duty Press Officer on 07880 500726.

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