NHS needs extra cash and overhaul claim health bosses
A five year plan for the NHS unveiled by six national bodies claims to have found an annual £30 billion budget shortfall.
Their report said changes, such as GP practices offering hospital services, would help to plug a large chunk of the gap, but health chiefs said the NHS would still need above inflation rises of 1.5% over the coming years.
That works out at an extra £8 billion a year above inflation by 2020. The current budget stands at £104 billion a year, but all the political parties have already started talking about what they would do in the next Parliament.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said difficult decisions needed to be taken, but added the Conservatives were committed to “protecting and increasing” funding in real terms.
“A strong NHS needs a strong economy, then it is possible to increase spending this report calls for.”
Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said some of the proposals were ideas Labour had already suggested.
“We’ve have found an extra £2.5 billion for the NHS, we’ve said that the NHS will be our priority in the next Parliament, and alongside that, we’re saying that the time has come to bring social care into the NHS.”
The Liberal Democrats have said they will make sure the budget rises above inflation.
The five year plan – called the NHS Forward View – also said the future of the health service depended on it becoming more efficient.
To achieve this, it called for a rethink about the way services were delivered and it put forward a range of models – although it stressed it was up to each local area to decide which ones to adopt.
- Large GP practices to employ hospital doctors to provide extra services, including diagnostics, chemotherapy and hospital outpatient appointments
- In areas where GP services are under strain, hospitals could be encouraged to open their own surgeries
- Smaller hospitals to work as part of larger chains, sharing back-office and management services
- Larger hospitals to open franchises at smaller sites, as Moorfields Eye Hospital has done in London
- Hospitals to provide care direct to care homes to prevent emergency admissions
- Volunteers could be encouraged to get more involved, by offering council-tax discounts
Many of these measures are designed to curb the rise in hospital admissions and the impact of the ageing population – the source of most pressure in the health service.
But the report – produced by NHS England, Public Health England, the regulator Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority, Care Quality Commission and Health Education England – also said more needed to be done to reduce obesity, smoking and drinking rates.
It also suggested employers should be encouraged to incentivise their staff to become healthier by taking steps such as offering them shopping vouchers for healthy behaviour.
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