May’s extra £8bn pledge for NHS is far less than it needs, experts say

Theresa May’s pledge of £8bn more for the NHS is far less than the service needs and could damage the quality of care and force it to reduce patients’ access to treatment, experts have said.

While the minimum £8bn extra over the course of the next parliament will give the NHS more money than planned between 2018 and 2020, it will still leave it facing what health finance specialists called a £12bn hole in its finances by 2020-21.

Health thinktanks said the prime minister’s extra investment was well below the much larger sums that the House of Lords and the government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility have recently said the NHS needs given the growing pressures it is under.

“Under the Conservatives’ manifesto plans, healthcare funding would not match the demand and cost pressures on the health service, which the independent OBR estimates at more than 4% a year above inflation,” said Prof Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation and former director of public spending at the Treasury.

“A projected £12bn funding gap by 2020-21 would require the NHS to continue to deliver major efficiency savings if quality and access to services are to be protected.”

But, she added, the NHS would find it “very challenging” to deliver the 3% a year efficiency gains needed to plug the gap, given the ageing and growing population, chronic understaffing across the service and demand for new medicines.

Full story in The Guardian, 18 May 2017