Whilst the media discusses terrorism without any evidence of what might be successful, the health service is ignored, despite evidence that refinancing is urgently needed, and in the long term the ideology is unsustainable. A letter from the three leading health think tanks in the Times fails to mention the need to ration health care overtly, but rationing is the unspoken thought behind all three… (CALL TO STRENGTHEN NHS FINANCES). Could it be that Mssrs Dixon, Edwards and Ham are effectively gagged from using the “R” word by threats to their funding? And they seem to include all the different health jurisdictions, and ignore that, as far as patients in Wales are concerned, there is no NHS any longer.
The NHS faces a £20 billion hole whoever wins the election, according to three leading think tanks.
They warn that services will worsen and patients will wait longer and be denied new drugs because no political party is offering enough for the NHS to cope with an ageing Britain. The main parties’ plans will give the NHS less than half the money it needs to avoid getting worse over the next parliament.
The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation say that politicians must come up with a long-term answer to rising health spending or be forced into wasteful emergency bailouts.
The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all promised to increase the NHS England budget, which is currently £124 billion. Analysis of manifesto pledges suggests that by 2022 spending will increase to £132 billion in real terms under Tory plans and £135 billion under Labour.
However, projections by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggest that the ageing population, rising cost of new drugs and other pressures mean the NHS will need £155 billion a year by then to maintain services.
“A real-terms funding increase of about £30 billion a year is needed in five years’ time to enable the NHS to deal with these pressures,” Chris Ham, Nigel Edwards and Jennifer Dixon, heads of the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation respectively, write in a letter to The Times.
“Our analysis shows that none of the main political parties has pledged enough in their manifestos to cover even half of that, while the share of our national wealth spent on healthcare would fall under all of their plans.
“Failure to provide sufficient funding and improve efficiency will result in longer waiting times for patients, poorer access to cost effective treatments and a decline in NHS and social care.”
Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst of the King’s Fund, said the OBR figures assumed the NHS would make further savings of the sort they had managed in the past, with bigger ones unlikely.
“You can certainly have that aspiration. But what the OBR does is take historical productivity that the NHS has achieved and bake that in,” he said.
By 2022 the population is expected to rise by 3.7 per cent, over-65s by 9.2 per cent and over-85s by 14.5 per cent.
Sir, A strong NHS is vital for a thriving population, workforce and economy. Public spending on healthcare accounts for just over 7 per cent of our national wealth. That is not enough to cope with the ageing population and other cost pressures.
Projections by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility suggest that a real-terms funding increase of about £30 billion a year is needed in five years’ time to enable the NHS to deal with these pressures. None of the main political parties has pledged enough to cover even half of that, while the share of our national wealth spent on healthcare would fall under all of their plans.
The next government must act quickly to strengthen the health service’s finances in the short term, as well as developing a sustainable, long-term approach to funding the NHS, to put an end to the cycle of feast and famine. This should include establishing an independent body to assess and advise on health and social care funding needs.
The NHS must also focus on improving efficiency and use additional funding to reform care to meet changing population needs. Failure to provide sufficient funding and improve efficiency will result in longer waiting times for patients, poorer access to cost-effective drugs and treatments and a decline in NHS and social care.
Jennifer Dixon, CEO, the Health Foundation; Nigel Edwards, CEO, Nuffield Trust; Chris Ham, CEO, the King’s Fund