Look beneath the headlines and it turns out the sum is contingent on results in the health serviceby Siva Anandaciva / June 27, 2018 / Leave a comment
The baseball player Yogi Berra once said, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
A similar sense of strategic confusion and indecision has pervaded NHS funding in recent years, as the Treasury first sets firm budgets for the NHS and then finds itself topping these up in drips and drabs as pressures on services mount. The prime minister’s announcement of a new long-term funding package for the NHS now provides an opportunity to reset this approach, and give some clarity over the resources the NHS will have to work with over the coming decade.
But why was a new approach needed in the first place? Our recent review of national data shows that although the NHS continues to make substantial efficiency improvements, it is buckling under the pressure of rising demand and austere funding. Hospitals are full, with 90 per cent of beds now regularly occupied, well above the 85 per cent threshold generally considered safe. Staffing vacancies are rife, with nearly 100,000 posts waiting to be filled. And all this against a backdrop of relentless increases in the need for care as the population grows, and lives longer with a range of conditions.