Even the most optimistic scenario put forward by the NHS' Five Year Review would require an additional £8bn a year by 2020.
Even the most optimistic scenario put forward by the NHS’ Five Year Review would require an additional £8bn a year by 2020
The Kings’s Fund has called for an additional £2bn in funding for the NHS, in a briefing prepared before the chancellor’s autumn statement.
The think tank, which works to improve health and social care in England, argues that the settlement agreed for the NHS in 2015/16 should be re-opened in order to protect patients from a financial crisis.
It says that unless this money is found, patients will suffer from staff cuts, increased waiting times and decreased quality of care.
Figures published in the last few days show that, halfway through the year, provider trusts are in a significantly worse position than at the end of the first quarter, with a deficit of £630 million.
At the same time, A&E waiting times are at their highest levels at this time of year for a decade, and target waits for hospital treatment, diagnostic tests and cancer treatment are not being reached.
The King’s Fund says that with an unprecedented number of hospitals reporting deficits, it is still unclear whether the Department of Health will be able to balance its books this year.
Regardless, it says that next year a financial crisis is inevitable because the NHS is set to receive a real-terms increase in its budget of just 0.2 per cent in 2015/16. In addition, significant amounts of NHS funding are due to be deployed through the Better Care Fund.
Chief Executive of the King’s Fund Chris Ham says:
“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, a financial crisis is inevitable next year and patients will bear the cost as waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates.”
In addition to the challenges that hospitals are facing, the briefing highlights the pressures on GP and mental health service.
Evidence suggests that increasing numbers of vulnerable patients with mental health problems are being admitted to hospital, held in police cells or sent a long way from their homes for treatment.
The briefing calls for the new fund to be established early in the next parliament, which it says will be necessary to pay for the development of new community-based services and help cover the cost of transitioning to a new model of care.
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 from old to new models of care.
Even the most optimistic scenario put forward by the NHS’ Five Year Forward View would require an additional £8 bn a year in funding by 2020, more than any political party has thus far pledged to find.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.