NHS financial temperature check - Briefing December 2016

Noel Plumridge and Lisa Robertson

01 December 2016


This is the sixth in a series of HFMA briefings setting out finance directors’ views on the financial issues facing the NHS in England.  It draws on responses to our survey of finance directors and chief finance officers (CFOs) of trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the English NHS.

The NHS financial temperature check provides a national picture of finance directors’ views of the financial outlook and the challenges NHS finance staff are facing.

The finance directors and CFOs of over 200 trusts and CCGs responded to our survey during October and November 2016.  The financial performance of the NHS in England continues to be a significant concern. After the national deficits reported in 2015/16, according to our survey 52% of trusts and 21% of CCGs forecast deficits in 2016/17. Some 85% of finance directors do not believe the 2016/17 financial “reset” will restore financial balance in the short term.

Finance directors are broadly positive about the sustainability and transformation planning process, but warn of over-ambitious savings expectations and the scale of financial risk involved.  They are also concerned about unclear governance and accountability.  Many say they will prioritise their own organisation rather than the STP.

Nearly half of the trust finance directors who responded to our survey, and around one-third of CCG CFOs, believe care quality will worsen in 2017/18.  Access to care, waiting times and range of services are seen as particular pressures.

To accompany our briefing we have produced an infographic summarising the key messages.


NHS financial temperature check - Briefing December 2016

December 2016 (PDF 892KB)


Additional documents

NHS financial temperature check - Infographic December 2016

July 2018 (PDF 232KB)