2% annual loss means a year on year deficit which will be denied in the government until after the next election. The next administration will plan for only 4 years, until the next purdah before the following election. Anita Charlesworth from The Health Foundation calls for an honest and open debate on Radio 4 this morning…. It won’t happen – of course… and covert post code rationing will continue. This is as bad as Wales (NHS in Wales ‘facing £2.5bn funding gap’ says research) where the deficit is £2.5m for 3m people – a similar order of deficit… Even over 10 years, at £20 billion, this is relatively easy to cover with co-payments, open rationing in many different ways, and pragmatic encouragement of patient autonomy. 140617_decade_of_austerity_wales 121203_a_decade_of_austerity_full_report
Senior health sources told the BBC growing costs would outstrip the money the NHS received from April 2015.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is involved in Whitehall talks on whether new money is needed to plug the gap.
The Department of Health said it was “confident” it would “make the savings necessary to meet rising demand”.
The NHS’s budget in England for 2015 has been set at about £100bn.
The NHS has experienced a prolonged budget freeze as part of the government’s plan to reduce the UK deficit.
We’ve got to fundamentally rethink the way the NHS provides its services”
End Quote Mike Farrar NHS Confederation
Its budget has been protected from cuts which have affected most other government departments, but spending has risen only at the rate of inflation.
Factors including population growth have led to increasing demand on NHS services and higher NHS pension costs have added to the financial pressure.
In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The NHS is on track to make £20bn savings this parliament and we are confident that it will continue to make the savings necessary to meet rising demand.”
But some health chiefs told the BBC the sums for the financial year beginning next April did not add up.
And in a survey of its members, the NHS Confederation, which represents senior health service managers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found managers were facing serious financial pressures.
Many said care had already been affected and expected the impact to grow over the coming months.
The confederation’s chief executive, Mike Farrar, said: “Our members are saying we’re doing our utmost to sustain our services and maintain standards but when we look ahead we’ve been doing that by taking short-term measures.
“Now we’ve probably got to fundamentally rethink the way the NHS provides its services.”
‘Gap after savings’
Meanwhile, an estimate by the health regulator, Monitor, underlines the possible scale of the challenge.
It says there is a funding gap of just over £5bn for 2015-16 in the NHS in England’s £78bn commissioning budget for all secondary healthcare – which makes up about three quarters of its total budget and includes hospitals and mental health services.
Even after all realistic efficiency savings are made, Monitor says, a deficit of £1.6bn will remain in this section of the budget.
The concerns over the NHS budget in England come after recent research by the Nuffield Trust suggested the NHS in Wales was facing a £2.5bn funding gap over the next decade.
Health minister Mark Drakeford said that report, commissioned by the Welsh government, recognised long-term savings could be made if services continued to be reformed.