Problem for both parties as NHS cash crisis heading from bad to worse

A new blog on NHS funding by the Nuffield Trust’s Sally Gainsbury highlights the scale of the problems coming down the line for whichever party wins the next election, which must take place by the end of next year.

She sums up “politicians are turning their attention to ever-more ingenious ways to promise a better NHS while avoiding a commitment to find extra money to pay for it.”

But the issue of funding can’t be wished away, and it seems that if Labour were to win the new government would not even have the option of sticking with Tory spending limits for three years, as Tony Blair’s government opted to do in 1997.

The situation is so urgent and serious, argues Gainsbury, that “whoever is in charge of public spending next week (let alone next year) is going to have to find the health service extra cash immediately, and in substantial quantities.”

Theresa May’s government back in 2018 promised to increase NHS spending by £20.5bn in real terms by 2023/24: this same money was later misleadingly translated into Boris Johnson’s promise to increase spending by £33.9 billion – in cash terms.

But in 2020/22 the Covid pandemic led to spending of £23bn being added to the NHS budget, even though billions of that was squandered on ineffective privatised test and trace and dodgy contracts for PPE.

Full story in The Lowdown, 6 October 2023