Many NHS organisations in England have improved their financial management but a minority of PCTs and trusts are still performing poorly and are putting patients at risk.
That’s the finding from the third annual Auditors’ Local Evaluation (ALE) report from the Audit Commission, published today (2 October).
Half of the 302 NHS trusts and PCTs assessed in England have performed well or strongly in the way that they have used their resources and only 3% have failed to balance their books.
Twenty NHS bodies in England have failed to reach minimum financial standards, of which 12 have failed to meet minimum standards overall in their use of resources in each of the past three years’ evaluations.
The vast majority (93%) of NHS trusts and PCTs met or exceeded minimum standards for their overall use of resources.
London’s performance is the most mixed – it has the highest proportion of NHS bodies performing strongly, but it also has the highest proportion failing to meet minimum standards.
The North West Strategic Health Authority area achieved the highest average score overall across England, while those in the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority area scored the lowest on average.
Michael O’Higgins, Chairman of the Audit Commission, said: “The improvements in the way that NHS trusts and PCTs have managed their money in the past year are impressive.
“Financial management in the health service had been in poor shape, but better use of resources locally has made a difference. Auditors have shown that many NHS bodies are now responding well to financial challenges and this local evaluation is helping to drive improvement.
“However, pockets of real concern remain. Poor financial management can put services for patients at risk. Patients and the public deserve better from the poor performers, who must learn from the strong performers.
An outstanding performance in this year’s report is from Bromley PCT, the first NHS body to score a 4 (performing strongly) in all five themes that make up the overall use of resources score.