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NHS needs £2 billion more in funding

Published on 26/11/14 at 03:57pm
NHS image

Healthcare think tank the King’s Fund has called for an additional £2 billion to be injected into the NHS in a briefing published this week.

Ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s annual Autumn Statement next week, the Fund argues that the settlement agreed for the NHS in 2015/16 should be re-opened to prevent an impending ‘financial crisis’.

“With an unprecedented number of hospitals reporting deficits, it will be touch and go whether the Department of Health will be able to balance its books this year,” it says in a statement.

“But with the NHS set to receive a real-terms increase in its budget of just 0.2% in 2015/16, significant amounts of NHS funding due to be deployed through the Better Care Fund and service pressures continuing to build, a financial crisis is inevitable next year.”

Recent figures show that provider trusts are already in deficit by £630 million in the second quarter. Meanwhile, target wait times are being breached ‘on a regular basis’, the Fund says, and A&E waiting times are at their highest levels at this time of year for a decade.

“The NHS faces huge pressures as a result of an unprecedented funding squeeze, rising demand for services and the need to safeguard quality of care following the Francis report.”

The King’s Fund is requesting this extra money even in the wake of health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiling a £10 billion NHS savings plan earlier this month.

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King's Fund, adds: “There is scope to improve productivity in the NHS, but this will not be enough to respond to unprecedented pressures on budgets and meet rising demand for services.

“Recent pledges from the main political parties to increase funding are welcome but it is clear that none of them have yet addressed the scale or the urgency of the financial challenge facing the NHS.

“With deficit reduction still a high priority, finding an additional £2 billion in the Autumn Statement is a very big ask. However, unless more money is found patients will bear the cost as waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates.”

The briefing also calls for a new transformation fund to be established early in the next parliament to pay for the development of new community-based services and help meet the costs of the transition to new models of care.

It adds that even under the most optimistic scenario, an additional £8 billion a year in funding will be needed by 2020, more than any of the political parties have pledged to find.

NHS ‘acting unlawfully’

Meanwhile, a High Court judge has said that NHS England is acting unlawfully by not involving patients in primary care commissioning decisions.

Patient Danny Curie brought the case against NHS England after the decision to phase out the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) at his local general practice.

Under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, the NHS has a duty to make arrangements for involving patients in such decisions, either by consulting them or providing them with information in other ways.

NHS England itself admitted that it had not made these arrangements, but says that it was was “taking active steps to bring itself into compliance with the duty”.

George Underwood

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