NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard says financial crisis is a ‘f****** nightmare’ amid warning that soaring inflation will cost health service an extra £7BILLION next year

  • Ms Pritchard made the comment at closed meeting with NHS leaders yesterday
  • She then urged local leaders to not worry over finances and focus on patients
  • It follows dire predictions that soaring inflation could cripple the NHS’s budget  
  • NHS officials warn rising costs could scuttle efforts to tackle the care backlog

The boss of NHS has described the health service’s financial situation as a ‘f****** nightmare’. 

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard made the comments at a behind-closed-doors meeting for local NHS leaders in London yesterday.

After the colourful description of the NHS’s finances, she insisted the situation was being tackled at a national level and that regional bosses shouldn’t be distracted by it, according to the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Her comments come amid dire predictions that the nation’s soaring inflation will cost the NHS an extra £7billion next year. 

A senior NHS England source confirmed to MailOnline that Ms Pritchard made the comment yesterday.

However, they added that the comment was followed by telling NHS leaders not to worry about it and focus on delivering for patients.

‘You job needs to be on doing everything you can to improve services for patients,’ Ms Pritchard reportedly added.  

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard (left) has reportedly described the health service’s financial situation as a ‘f****** nightmare’. Ms Pritchard pictured here in July presenting a George Cross to NHS representatives at Windsor Castle with May Parsons (right), modern matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, accepting the honour

More than 7million people in England are now waiting for routine NHS ops such as hip and knee replacements, grim data revealed today.

Leading experts fear the ‘grim milestone’ — the equivalent of one in eight people — will only get topped as the pressures of winter, Covid and flu kick in.

The backlog is up from 6.8m last month and marks the highest total since NHS records began in 2007. Almost 390,000 patients have been forced to endure year-long waits for their treatment, often while in serious pain. 

Separate analysis by the BBC released suggests the NHS is carrying out fewer operations and treatments than before the pandemic, despite pledges to shrink the ever-growing list. 

In the past year, an average of nearly 257,500 inpatient treatments, including hip and knee replacements, have been performed each month – roughly 12 per cent lower than the year before the pandemic.

Damning monthly performance stats from the NHS also revealed that more than 30,000 patients faced 12-hour waits in A&E — a record high. Meanwhile, doctors on the frontline have claimed that patients have faced eight-hour waits for ambulances in parts of the country.

She also told local NHS leaders that the health service ‘must not conclude with defeatism’ despite the multiple pressures facing the system.

Her comments were made on the same day it was revealed that more than 7million people in England are now waiting for routine NHS ops such as hip and knee replacements.

The damning monthly performance stats from the NHS also revealed that more than 30,000 patients faced 12-hour waits in A&E — a record high. 

Meanwhile, doctors on the frontline claimed that patients have now facing eight-hour waits for ambulances in parts of the country. 

According to reports, Ms Pritchard’s expletive descriptor of the situation, alongside reassurances, was well received.

One local chief executive told HSJ it was a ‘brave and impassioned speech’ and sensed frustration from Ms Pritchard about what the situation meant for the NHS’s ability to tackle health inequalities and prevention.

Her comments also followed data confirming that the NHS’s buildings repair backlog has soared to £10.2billion in England. 

This is 11 per cent rise since 2020/21 in the overall repairs bill, with £1.8billion classified as needing to be spent urgently on eradicating ‘high risk’ issues.

The NHS defines this as work needed ‘to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and/or prosecution’.

Another £3.5billion is needed to address ‘significant risk’ repairs, which are issues that ‘require priority management and expenditure in the short term so as not to cause undue concern to statutory enforcement bodies or risk to healthcare delivery or safety’. 

Just last week the head of NHS England’s finances, Julian Kelly, warned the health service could be forced to slash cancer, mental health and GP services in a bid to cut spending by £20billion over the next three years due to spiralling inflation.

The warning raised fears that a ‘financial hit of this magnitude’ could scupper efforts to tackle record waiting lists, which is now 7million.

The NHS waiting list for routine operations has breached 7million for the first time ever. This includes almost 390,000 patients who’ve been forced to wait over a year for treatment

Ambulances took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds to respond to category two calls , such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is more than twice as long as the 18 minute target

A&E waits have also breached a record, with the number of patients facing 12-hour waits exceeding 30,000 

Mr Kelly said the NHS would need to save around £14billion, which in part relates to extra funding received for dealing with Covid.

He said ‘potential ongoing inflation’ could see further cost pressures of about £6-7billion next year.

Ms Pritchard’s comments are the second time in 24-hours that senior health officials have raised eyebrows with an off-hand line.

Late yesterday Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey said NHS nurses unhappy with their pay are free to leave, as the threat of devastating strikes inch closer.

She has already said the Government will not cough up extra cash to prevent the first ever UK-wide nursing walk-out.

Doubling down on her position with another explosive jibe, Dr Coffey said No10 has ‘already’ helped the public cope with the cost-of-living crisis. She added that nurses have also been offered £1,400, in reality.

Union bosses are demanding nurses get a salary uplift of at least five per cent above inflation, which currently sits at 12.3 per cent.

This would grant the average nurse, who earns roughly £35,600 each year according to the Government, an extra £6,150. But bowing to the union could cost taxpayers an extra £1billion.

When asked about British nurses leaving the UK to places such as Australia in search of better pay, Dr Coffey told the Evening Standard they are welcome to go and that the UK can recruit more from overseas.

‘It is their choice of course if they want to do that,’ she added. ‘But then we also have an open route for people to come into this country who are professional staff.’

Last week the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) began balloting its 300,000 members working in the NHS, urging them to vote for strike action for the first time in its 106-year history.

The ballot closes on November 2. 

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