LONDON – Britain’s National Health Service is facing its worst financial crisis ever, according to a report. Hospitals are the most affected, with 132 out of the 138 trusts in England now in red. The total deficit is more than treble last year’s figure, as it is expected to reach £2.8 billion by the end of 2016.

The report by NSH Improvement described the current cash situation as “unsustainable”. The 240 hospital, mental health trusts and ambulance services combined recorded a deficit of £2.26 billion in the nine months to December 2015, compared to £664 million from the previous year.

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Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, said providers will be very disappointed by the report as it shows one important aspect of the many difficulties they are going through. “Despite this, providers are making progress on improving their finances whilst also providing more treatment, to more patients with more complex care needs than ever before”, Mackey pointed out.

However, he said the NSH will be forced to make improvements in order to tackle the operational challenges it is currently facing.

According to a report by Daily Mail, once of the main causes of the NHS’s financial crisis is that, due to staffing shortages, hospitals have been forced to spend too much on expensive agency nurses and doctors. Some trusts have paid up to £3,200 for a locum doctor and out £2,200 for an agency nurse per day.

But the major cause is represented by the rising and aging population, given that the number of individuals needing health care has steadily increased.

Heidi Alexander MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, blamed the Tories for the worst financial crisis in the history of the NSH, according to the report by the Daily Mail. Alexander added that UK’s health service is in “financial free fall” and that Tory Ministers have no control of the situation.

Patients will be inevitably affected by the crisis

Hospitals will most likely be under further pressure to cut staff in order to reduce their spending. They will also have to ration treatment or close wards. Patients will suffer, since they will face longer waits for operations and deteriorated care during wards if hospitals cut back on doctors and nurses.

Cancer patients are already facing longer waits for treatment, routine surgery and in A&E. Alexander said the Government needs to explain patients the consequences they will have to face because of the crisis, including certain services at risk of closure.

Source: Daily Mail