Is the NHS going to break in 2017? It is already – just that some may not know it

Nick Triggle for BBC news 29th December 2016 asks “Is the NHS going to break in 2017?”.

I have bad news for you: as far as most citizens are concerned, but also GPs, Nurses and Consultants, Paramedics, Physiotherapists and other disengaged staff, your local health system already broken. It is beyond the point of rescue because of the lack of sufficient staff to meet the oncoming tsunami of demographic survivors with multiple and complex problems. An unrepentant Michael Gove opines in the Guardian.. Meanwhile Rational Rationing is derided – because it is covert, post coded and divisive. Rationing of staff such as GPs and Doctors means access is becoming more problematic (RCGP Chairman, Helen Stokes-Lampard) , and this will encourage private General Practice and increase the health divide. Perverse outcomes as a result of perverse incentives….. Add to the demands the litigation costs , the dishonesty of politicians, and the problems are out of control..

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The past few months – if not the whole year – have seen a constant stream of warnings about impending Armageddon in the health service.

We have heard how the system has reached various levels of crisis from “tipping point” and “breaking point” to “on the brink of collapse”.

But is it really that bad? And if so, what can we expect in 2017?…

….The frightening thing for ministers – and in particular the Treasury – is just how much cash the NHS is swallowing. Over £130bn is spent on the health service across the UK. In England, the budget was increased by 4% in real terms this year.

But still it hasn’t got enough. Hospitals continue to rack up deficits. And while the NHS will undoubtedly still manage to balance its books by year end in March because of surpluses elsewhere, the prospects for the next financial year are much gloomier.

The 2017-18 year will see a much smaller rise in the budget – under 1% once inflation is taken into account.

That – to borrow a phrase from former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson – really will be squeaky bum time. Yes you can always argue the Treasury will step in and provide more funds, but no area of government spending has had as generous a settlement as the NHS. Tough questions will be asked and cuts will undoubtedly have to follow….

At a time when the population is ageing you would think more and more people would be getting help. But the opposite is true. The number of over-65s being helped has fallen by over a quarter in the past five years. This is seen as critical, because the cuts have been linked to the rising numbers of older people turning up at A&E. The care system and NHS are – it is argued – two sides of the same coin.

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The government has already tried to take action. Before Christmas, ministers announced that councils would be able to raise council tax more quickly than had been planned. But the jury is out on whether this will actually lead to that much more money being invested in services.

Brexit campaigner Michael Gove defends NHS funding pledge – Tory MP says £350m-a-week promise remains robust and renews argument that economic experts must be challenged

Sarah Boseley in the Guardian: Breast cancer drug rejected for NHS use on cost-benefit grounds

Senior GP Helen Stokes-Lampard voices fears for services ·

Anna Behrmann reports in the Express 18th December: NHS lines up £56billion of budget to pay for legal costs of negligence cases – THE NHS has set aside almost half of its entire budget to cover compensation payments and legal costs, it has emerged.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Patient representatives, Perverse Incentives, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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