Improving productivity is the key to saving the health serviceby Jennifer Dixon / September 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
The NHS is about as old as India since independence and the Chinese Communist State. Next July it turns 70. Celebrations will be a mix of warm sentiment, rightful pride and soul searching as to its future. But how to navigate the gush of facts, alternative facts and emotion? Is the NHS in a “doom loop” of out-of-control demand and costs, or in good health but with a short-term cold?
Clearly there are problems. The squeeze on funding growth, particularly since 2010, is real and hurting. In England the average real growth of 1.2 per cent this decade is around a quarter of what the NHS is used to. Ironically the biggest funding pinch comes in anniversary year 2018. Unsurprisingly the cracks are showing: workforce shortages, hospitals full to bursting, longer waits, tighter eligibility for care, poor access to mental health services, and scanty investment in infrastructure. Add to that the effect of cuts to social care, particularly on older frail people, and the mix is toxic. Over the last 20 years health care spending in the UK, as across the OECD, has outpaced GDP growth, and is a rising share of public spending.