Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged people to go to pharmacists for treatment instead of using over-stretched A&E departments.Read the full story ›
It has emerged that more than half a billion pounds of emergency government money had to be pumped into the NHS last year.
The funds were to bail out hospital trusts which were in financial trouble. Auditors have warned the growing economic stress on the health service is 'not sustainable'.
ITV News Reporter Lewis Vaughan Jones has the details:
The chief executive of the Patients Association said "serious questions" need to be asked about how the "financial crisis" was allowed to develop with the NHS.
We have had a significant amount of money pumped into the NHS in the past, but patients are still receiving substandard care. We receive many calls to our Helpline about delays in treatment, incorrect diagnosis and undignified care.
We cannot use lack of funding as an excuse for poor patient care and every effort must be made to ensure that the NHS provides safe high quality care and maintains dignity for its patients at all times.
Ms Murphy added that there is "clearly an urgent need" for addressing these financial issues and and for targeting programmes which will "improve the funding situation" and enable better care for patients.
The NHS is "already struggling" on important issues like A&E and cancer treatment waiting times, a healthcare campaigner told Good Morning Britain.
Anita Charlesworth said the black hole in some NHS trust's finances was so severe it would not be long before patients would start see the lack of funds "impacting".
The £511 million diverted to failing hospital trusts shows the "NHS is heading for the rocks", according to Labour.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the report on emergency funds used to prop up NHS bodies slipping into debt was a "devastating verdict" on coalition reforms.
This report delivers a devastating verdict on the NHS reorganisation David Cameron said would not happen. It has brought the NHS to the brink of bankruptcy by wasting £3 billion.
Across England, the NHS is running out of money and patient care is heading backwards. It is clear ministers have lost control of NHS finances, with a massive deterioration in the last year.
The NHS is heading for the rocks. It proves David Cameron cannot be trusted with it. He must produce an urgent plan to show how he'll turn the NHS around.
Labour will rescue the NHS with our £2.5 billion Time to Care package which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses - investment the Tories will not match.
The NHS budget had increased by £12.7 billion since 2010, maintained the Department of Health, in the face of searing criticism for the National Audit Office about the amount of bailouts given to failing trusts.
The government said the majority of health providers were still in financial balance or better and said reforms had allowed doctors to "control their own budgets".
Financial discipline must be as important as safe care and good performance. Many NHS organisations are already achieving this and all understand the need for greater efficiency.
Our reforms put power in the hands of local doctors and nurses to make decisions and control their own budgets to make sure patients receive the best services.
The Department of Health has pumped an extra £1.8 billion into 46 NHS bodies since 2006/7, a damning report into NHS finances found.
The National Audit Office found:
- Of the £1.8 billion only £160 million has been repaid.
- Among the struggling trusts to be bailed out in 2013/14, North Cumbria University Hospitals received the highest total of £42 million.
- Next up was Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals with £40.7 million.
- In third place was University Hospital of North Staffordshire with £37 million.
- Forty-four health trusts moved from surplus in 2012/13 to deficit in 2013/14.
- Overall, NHS bodies achieved a net surplus of £722 million in 2013/14 - a third of the £2.1 billion recorded in the previous 12 months.
The government has had to prop up cash-strapped NHS trusts and foundations with over half a billion pounds in emergency funds this year, a "deeply alarming" report from auditors said.
An extra £511 million was spent on bailing out struggling NHS trusts in 2013-14 alone, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
This was double the £263 million given to failing trusts the year before as funds had to be diverted to an extra 16 trusts which had not previously needed extra cash.
Some 25 NHS trusts had fallen into the red by the end of 2012/13, but this number has more than doubled over the last 12 months and peaked at 63, the NAO said.
The report said the gross deficit of health trusts rose by 150% from £297 million in 2012/13 to £743 million in 2013/14.
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the "deeply alarming report" showed the future sustainability of the NHS was at risk.
Maintaining NHS services depends on doctors ensuring the best use of resources, according to a report.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said a series of "relatively simple measures" could create savings of nearly £2 billion which could be reinvested to improve patient care and raise NHS standards.
Recommending 16 examples of changes to clinical practice, the report called on improving doctors' awareness of adverse drug reactions, particularly among elderly patients, which account for 6% of hospital admissions and could save £466 million.
Its chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, said:
Delivering quality care and promoting value are really two sides of the same coin. One doctor's waste is another patient's delay; potentially it could be another patient's lack of treatment.
NHS workers, including nurses, midwives, porters and radiographers, in England will stage a four-hour strike on November 24 in their row with the Government over pay, unions announced today.