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Extra £20bn a year for NHS to only make up ‘lost ground’

Theresa May’s recently pledged extra £20bn a year for the NHS will be spent filling gaps caused by austerity to make up on “lost ground,” major health service bosses have said.

Funds dedicated to recovering current performance and financial gaps, pay rises for staff, and steps to enhance performance in cancer and mental health are amongst the “right services” NHS Providers have outlined the extra funding will need to cover to meet growing demand.

The report outlines that growing delays have been bad for patients, who have suffered from lengthening waiting lists and last-minute cancellations: recovering the 18-week target for routine operations would cost £950m a year for three years, the health organisation added.

To end the persistent problem of bed-blocking and meet the benchmark of admitting or discharging 95% of A&E patients within four hours, NHS Providers added, a massive 7,825 hospital beds would be needed, and would cost around £900m a year.

Areas including mental health, community nursing, and ambulance services were highlighted by the report as “pressures just as great” as those on the acute sector.

Restoring the mental health and community nursing workforce to 2010 levels, the health body which represents 99% of the workforce said, would cost almost £350m a year for the next three years, before “even starting to address the unmet need” and increased demand for care.

 “We need to recognise how dependent the NHS is on wider public services, in particular public health and social care,” NHS Providers said. “Ensuring that these services are sustainably funded is crucial to the success of the health and care system over the next ten years.

“Our view is that recovering lost ground would take up much if not most of the additional NHS spending, restricting the options for other key priorities. The cost of recovering the financial and operational gaps shows that difficult the choices in the new NHS ten-year plan will be required.”

The report noted that tackling “high and significant” maintenance risks and preventing any new backlog from arising will cost at least £1.2bn a year for three years.

One chief executive of an acute hospital trust said: “We recently had to go on A & E divert because all the bed lifts in the hospital broke down. And at our other site a major thunderstorm caused £150,000 of damage because water got into a lift mechanism causing it to catch fire. It takes 20 weeks to fix a 1930s lift”.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said: “This report highlights the scale of the challenges the NHS faces in recovering the lost ground that has built up over the longest and deepest financial squeeze in NHS history.

“These findings will help frame the debate about what can be devoted to recovery alongside other important priorities such as transforming the way services for patients are delivered, and improving care for mental health and cancer.

 “It is striking how these pressures are being felt right across the system, in hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services.

“We would be fooling ourselves to think there are any simple short cuts to recovery.”

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Image credit: Tolga Akmen, PA Images


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