Time for the government to act
NHS Support Federation
Our NHS is desperate for extra resources, but the current spending will not be enough to ease the pressure on the NHS and prevent harmful cuts.
Questions the government must answer
Why is the government not responding to the obvious impact of NHS underfunding on patients and staff? Cuts to spending should be replaced by a new long term funding commitment.
Why is UK health spending not rising with health needs? Instead average rises are the lowest since the 1950s
Why is the government asking the NHS to find £22bn of savings, which many experts think is not achievable without further substantial cuts?
NHS funding protected?
Health Economist Anita Charlesworth has pointed out that the government has not increased all parts of the health budget. Her analysis was confirmed by a report by the Health Select Committee. Some areas will experience large cuts. Junior doctor training, health visiting, sexual health and vaccinations will all face a real terms reduction of 20% by 2020/21. She said after the Chancellor's Autumn statement.
"Make no mistake, these are cuts to front-line NHS services and will directly impact on patient care."
Anita Charlesworth, Chief Ecomonist,
There is a black hole, but no plan to fill it.
Over the next 5 years the NHS needs £30bn, but has only been promised 8bn. It has to find £22bn in efficiency savings, but many inside the service feel this is unachievable, including nine out of ten of NHS finance directors.
An enquiry by the National Audit office backed this conclusion, “There is not yet a convincing plan for closing the £22bn efficiency gap and avoiding a ‘black hole’ in NHS finances,”
Over the last 5 years real health spending has risen by 0.9% each year (2010-15). The lowest of any Parliament. Current spending plans see no change to this trend of record low rises - a 10 cycle of underfunding unmatched in the history of the NHS. No wonder our health service is struggling.
We spend less than other countries
We spend significantly less on health than most comparable countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands. In part this shows that the NHS is good value, but it also reminds us that we can't expect to get comprehensive, high quality healthcare on the cheap.
The NHS needs around 4% rises in its funding a year, to keep track with demand, technology and health inflation. Not supplying these resources, but instead asking the NHS to save money, will no longer work. The crisis is obvious to most, but with every year of underfunding the NHS is less able to meet our health needs.
Calls for the government to deal with staffing shortages have come from all sides of the NHS. Delay is costly as it takes years to train staff and will cause many more to leave disillusioned, underpaid and overworked. Inaction can also be dangerous and negligent as the Francis report tells us loudly and clearly.
Time to match the commitment of NHS staff
Already patients are suffering delays and a decline in the standard of care. Staff are working under persistent pressure and are unable to deliver the care that they want to. This message comes from the staff themselves and the poor performance statistics.
And yet the NHS is not yet broken, NHS staff will carry on, delivering a service in the best way they can. Their resillience is huge. Millions of patients will still receive good care successfully. But how long can we go on ignoring the signs of strain, of care being compromised by a lack of resources. We must meet their dedication with a commitment to adequately fund the NHS. Not just to get it out of the current crisis but to give it support and certainty into the future.
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