This article from the International Medical Press suggests that NHS funding is at a critical juncture .
NHS funding ‘worst since inception’
- International Medical Press
The decade since the 2010 spending review will be the ‘toughest financially’ for the NHS in its history, according to the chief economist on health policy in the King’s fund.
John Appleby noted that NHS spending may well be protected, but as a share of the national wealth (as measured by GDP), it is shrinking. Injecting more money into the service does not mean that it will keep pace with the growing economy.
Mr Appleby wrote: ‘Although health spending will grow, growth in the economy as a whole will almost certainly outstrip the relatively small real-terms increase pencilled in for the NHS. Between 2009/10 and 2020/21 the UK GDP is forecast to increase in real terms by more than a quarter. But NHS spending across the United Kingdom will have risen by around 15 per cent.’
Earlier this month, Richard Murray, the director of policy at the King’s Fund, claimed that the NHS was heading towards an ‘unprecedented’ end-of-year deficit. He commented: ‘The government and NHS bodies are already taking urgent measures to reduce spending and find savings from other budgets, but it is inconceivable that an overspend of this magnitude can be covered by the end of the year.
However, according to Mr Appleby, this deficit is due ‘neither to a lack of reform nor a reluctance to reduce waste and improve productivity.’
He continued: ‘Increases in spending are increasingly falling behind increases in demand and costs, as well as the NHS’ ability in the short-term at least to make ends meet through productivity improvements.
‘As a result the NHS is struggling to meet its obligations to patients. Headline waiting times standards for cancer and in emergency departments, for example, are now missed routinely, the target minimum wait for diagnostic tests has not been met for the past 18 months, and though now abandoned, the admitted elective waiting time target was missed in 14 of the past 18 months.’