The Public Accounts Committee will examine Department of Health Accounts on Monday 16 October 2017.
Scope of the inquiry
The sustainability of finances in healthcare has concerned the Public Accounts Committee for a number of years.
The Department of Health accounts for 2016–17 were published two days before the House of Commons rose for the summer recess, giving limited time for MPs to scrutinise them. In them, the department reports a drop in the number of trusts in deficit from 101 in 2015–16 to 52 in 2016–17, but this is attributable to £1.8 billion of Sustainability and Transformation Funding. It remains to be seen whether the Department can deliver such increases in financial sustainability across trusts in the longer term.
Elsewhere the Department continues to move money between different budgets in ways that are not usually encouraged by HM Treasury, with capital budgets being used to support day-to-day expenditure. It is not certain whether an additional £325 million announced by the Chancellor will go towards local services or will again be used to support day-to-day functions of the Department.
The Public Accounts Committee will ask senior officials from the Department about measures they are taking to make sure it stays within its approved budget, explore the reasoning for continuing to transfer money from capital to revenue budgets, and examine the Department’s progress in making sure NHS England is more financially sustainable.