It’s not even winter yet, but the NHS is already in a major beds crisis and bracing for the worst as Chancellor and new PM mull over the extent to more public spending cuts.
Far from growing to meet demand, the most recent inflation forecasts show that England’s NHS budget in 2025 will be over £4 billion SMALLER in real terms than it was last year, and £12 billion smaller than promised by Rishi Sunak as Chancellor a year ago – and as The Lowdown has warned, local health services across England, now carved up into just 42 “Integrated Care Systems” have to generate unprecedented ‘savings’ (i.e. cuts) this year and next.
The result is a funding squeeze as bad as the Thatcher years in the 1980s. NHS England’s normally docile Chief executive Amanda Pritchard has gone on record to warn that before any further cuts “the money is a f**king nightmare.”
Ben Zaranko of the Institute for Fiscal Studies told the Health Service Journal the financial squeeze is the tightest-ever: “only seven times in the entire history of the NHS has real-terms budget growth dipped below zero, and not since the early 1950s has it done so in two consecutive years.”
NHS Providers interim chief executive Saffron Cordery says: “There is absolutely no financial wriggle room to stretch the budget even further without this having knock-on effects for health and care.”
It’s so bad even the NHS Confederation is warning that any further erosion of an already inadequate NHS budget will endanger patients:
Full story in The Lowdown, 31 October 2022