The BMA says it is ‘deeply concerning’ that one in four NHS trusts is under financial stress, with private providers also struggling.
An Audit Commission report voices concerns about the financial resilience of one quarter of NHS trusts after examining accounts for 101 trusts for 2013/14.
In addition, 19 trusts — including private provider-operated Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust — have been referred to ministers after failing to meet their statutory duty to break even.
BMA council chair Mark Porter (pictured below) said: ‘For all of the government's misguiding championing of private providers playing a greater role in the NHS, it is telling that the first privately run trust is not immune to the pressures affecting the whole of the health service.
‘Demand on our health service is far outstripping investment in the NHS, and yet trusts are told they must simply live within their means.
‘It is a reflection of just how hard frontline staff are working that so far the NHS has coped well and that, despite years of under-investment, the quality of patient care is still the best in the world.’
Dr Porter said the report was ‘just another sign’ of the growing financial problems in evidence across the health service.
The Kings Fund's recent quarterly report painted a similar picture, with around quarter of trusts and foundation trusts, and almost a tenth of clinical commissioning groups also in deficit.
‘We are already seeing the system starting to buckle, and growing queues in our GP surgeries and emergency departments are now a daily reality for many patients,’ Dr Porter added.
‘Without sustainable investment in the NHS we cannot continue to meet the rising demand without the quality of care being affected.’
Audit Commission controller of audit Marcine Waterman said: ‘This year our auditors are concerned about the financial resilience of more NHS trusts.
‘This reflects the increased risks to the financial sustainability of individual bodies, pressured by the need to make financial savings, managing increased demand for services while improving patients’ quality of care.’
Read Auditing the Accounts 2013/14
Read the King's Fund quarterly report
The 19 trusts that have been referred to ministers are:
- Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust
- Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
- George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
- Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust
- Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust
- Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- North Bristol NHS Trust
- North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
- North West London Hospitals NHS Trust
- Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
- Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
- The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust
- United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust
- Weston Area Health NHS Trust
- Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
The story so far