Will PM Theresa May’s funding boost be enough to maintain standards of care?
Prime Minister Theresa May is planning a ‘significant’ cash boost for the NHS to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the its foundation, Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has claimed.
In a Guardian interview, Mr Hunt said the PM will ditch the austerity-era 1% annual rises the health service has received since 2010, and will provide funding aimed at tackling understaffing, the ageing population and improving care.
Mr Hunt is reported to favour a 10-year funding plan and a return to annual funding increases close to 4%, but the Treasury is said to believe that anything above 2-2.5% would be unaffordable.
NHS observers will weigh any increase in funding against a hard-hitting joint open letter signed by the heads of policy analyst organisations King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation.
This warned that all analyses show the NHS needs real terms funding increases of around 4% each year to keep pace with rising demand, provide some investment in key priorities and continue the planned transformation of services set out in the Five year forward view policy.
Anything less would risk ‘further deterioration in standards of patient care’ and ‘patients and families will pay the price as the service declines’.
The think-tank heads pointed to staff shortages and social care as two areas that required urgent action.
In his interview, Mr Hunt admitted that Britain’s decision to leave the EU had contributed to widespread NHS staff shortages, but argued that once Britain’s relationship with Europe post-Brexit is settled the supply of EU27 health staff should return.
He said lack of staff is now his biggest priority and NHS employees should be reassured that he was committed to tackling the issue.