NHS Finance

08.11.17

Organisations demand extra £4bn NHS funding next year

Patient care will deteriorate across the NHS if the government cannot find another £4bn for services in the upcoming budget.

Analysis from the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust suggests that a funding gap of £20bn could open up by 2022/23 if the issue is not dealt with quickly.

The briefing claims that 2018/19 will be a crunch year for the NHS, with funding per person projected to fall by 0.3% – based on figures by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The research group say that the government will not be able to fulfil its manifesto pledges unless it delivers on its pledge to increase NHS spending in real terms for every year of the parliament. In addition, it must ensure any increase in pay for staff, such as scrapping the 1% pay cap, is fully funded.

There are also calls for chancellor Philip Hammond to use the Autumn Budget to accounce an immediate payment covering promises that NHS funding would reach £8bn by the end of parliament and outline a plan for meeting election commitments of providing an extra £10bn in capital investment.

“After seven years of austerity, the dramatic improvements made in health care over the past 20 years are at risk of slipping away,” commented Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund. “The message is clear – unless the government finds the money the NHS and social care need, patients, service users and their families will suffer the consequences.”

The three organisations also argue that a new independent body should be established – modelled on the OBR – to assess long-term health and care spending plans.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “Despite having become ever more efficient, the NHS faces a huge underlying financial gap set to grow every year unless something changes.

“The problem simply is not going to go away with one-off bungs or bailouts and is driving hospitals into deficit and causing patients to wait longer and longer for treatment. The government must face facts and commit to sustainable increases over the lifetime of this parliament.”

Estimates from the report say that NHS spending would need to rise from £123.8bn in 2017/18 to around £153bn in 2022/23 to keep pace with demographic pressures and increasing costs.

Health Foundation chief executive, Jennifer Dixon, said: “Public opinion consistently shows, through polling and voting, that the NHS is a top priority issue facing Britain. Without proper investment now, the NHS will slip well below the standards and outcomes of health care provided by our European neighbours.

“This is entirely avoidable. An extra £4bn in 2018/19 would simply be a return to the average increases of the first 63 years of the NHS’s history. The additional funding required is not exceptional, it is the past seven years of austerity that are the exception.”

Top image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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