NHS funding debate call by health experts

How the NHS is funded should be a national debate according to leading health experts.

NHS funding debate call by health expertsIn a letter to The Times, they say challenges from an ageing population mean the system is “creaking at the seams” and cannot continue as it is.

Signatories include the heads of the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Nursing.

Without action an extra £30 billion will be needed by 2020 to fund the NHS at current levels their letter adds.

They are asking for a cross-party, independent conversation on the way forward for the “scope, provision and funding of health and social care”.

The nine signatories say that in 50 years’ time, at least two-and-a-half times as many patients will suffer from multiple health problems.

Their letter says: “The status quo is not an option. We are already seeing the signs of the system creaking at the seams.”

Warning that “business as usual won’t do”, they assert there needs to be “an honest, open dialogue between politicians and citizens”.

“We need a new settlement; a fundamental, holistic agreement with the country on what health and social care should be, how and where it is delivered to maximise the quality of care, and how it should be paid for.”

This “national conversation” should start now and be completed by the end of 2015, the letter concludes.

Two signatories – Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, and Turning Point chief executive Lord Adebowale – are non-executive directors of NHS England.

It is also signed by: Sir John Oldham, who chaired the Independent Commission on Whole Person Care; Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society; Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing; Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs; Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians; Jean-Pierre van Besouw, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, and Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network.

Obesity and diabetes drugs cost needlessly harms NHS

NHS Scotland has spent nearly £230 million on drugs to treat diabetes and obesity within the last three years figures have shown.

Obesity and diabetes drugs cost needlessly harms NHSThe diabetes drugs bill was £75.7 million in 2013-14, £73.2 million last year and £74.2 milion in 2011-12.  Another £6.1 million went on obesity prescriptions in the three year period.

The figures were obtained by the Conservatives who said the conditions were harming both sufferers and the NHS.

The Scottish government said obesity and diabetes were on the rise across Europe and Scotland was no exception. It said the problem was being taken seriously and a range of measures had been implemented to try to tackle it.

The most recent statistics suggested nearly a quarter of a million people in Scotland now have diabetes, almost 5% of the population. The majority of sufferers, about 220,000, have type 2 diabetes.

A total of 3.34 million items were dispensed to treat diabetes in Scotland in 2013-14.

The official figures revealed that obese patients were prescribed more than 52,000 items in the same period – about 1,000 a week – at a cost of £1.9 million.

That is up from the cost of £1.5 million in 2012-13, but lower than the previous year, when £2.7 million was spent on obesity prescriptions.

Conservative health spokesman, Jackson Carlaw, who obtained the figures, said: “Of course, not every case of diabetes is related to weight, there are a range of reasons. But the fact prescriptions for both diabetes and obesity are rising at an alarming rate year-on-year cannot be ignored.”

“While we need the NHS and Scottish government to do all they can to force through messages on healthy living, it isn’t just down to them.  There has to be a level of personal responsibility.”

“Obesity generally isn’t something you catch on a bus, and people know that a healthy diet and active lifestyle are what’s required to keep the weight down.  If they don’t, diabetes is just one of the serious conditions lurking round the corner.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Our diabetes action plan, which will be updated this summer, sets out a clear commitment to the prevention and early detection of diabetes and to improve the treatment and care of people with diabetes.

“Although the number of people with Type 2 diabetes has increased in the last year, the number of prescriptions per person has remained at the same level.

“We are supporting child healthy weight interventions and are increasing opportunities for children to get involved in sport and physical activity, through active schools and our target of all primary children having two hours of PE lessons a week.”

Dying need free social care cancer campaigners say

Free end of life social care is needed to save the NHS money and improve patient care claim cancer campaigners.

Dying need free social care cancer campaigners sayMacmillan Cancer Support says it could save the NHS in England £69 million a year on the care of cancer patients alone. Its analysis is based on a review of patient surveys, official NHS spending data and interviews with senior decision-makers.

Social care is currently means tested, but ministers are considering providing it to everyone at the end of life.  About half of people end up dying in hospital despite eight in 10 saying they would prefer to die at home.

Macmillan’s analysis said this equated to about 180,000 people spending their last days in hospital against their wishes.

The cost to the NHS of this was estimated to be £685 million a year, Macmillan said.

If those patients were cared for in the community via a combination of community NHS services and social care the cost would be £340 million – a saving of £34 5million.

Of those 180,000 patients, about 36,000 are cancer patients. This would equate to a saving of £69 million if they were able to die at home, Macmillan said.

Earlier this week the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services warned the current system of social care was “unsustainable” because of a lack of funding and rising demands.

Macmillan chief executive Ciaran Devane said: “We urgently need to reform end-of-life services in England. Every day around 100 cancer patients die in expensive hospital beds when they wanted to die at home.

“This is both morally wrong and a scandalous waste of precious NHS resources.”

A Department of Health representative said: “We want to make sure that people nearing the end of their lives can choose where to spend their last days and have more of a say on how they are cared for.  We are currently reviewing how to improve the quality and experience of care at the end of life and the system for funding it.”