NHS is financially unsustainable, report shows

A new report highlights the issues within the government’s 10-year plan, claiming that the NHS is financially unsustainable regardless

According to a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO), the NHS is, currently, financially unsustainable.

This is in response to the recently-published 10-year plan, which the NAO believe is inadequate.

A decade of under-investment has ensured that the NHS is facing staff shortages across the board while patients endure longer wait times.

The NAO also uncovered ‘substantial deficits’ that have been shushed via a broader discussion about long-term reform.

“The NAO has laid bare just how difficult it will be to achieve the ambitions of the NHS long-term plan given where the NHS is starting from,” Richard Murray, chief executive of the King’s Fund think tank, said.

The NAO report also highlights the fact that certain issues within healthcare, such as the four-hour treatment target in A&E departments, have been deferred to a separate report.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA), council chair, responded to the report on the behalf of the association.

“This report from the NAO underlines the increasingly precarious state the NHS is in. It is deeply worrying that this assessment has found the NHS is not in a financially sustainable position, with parts of the system mired in deficits and overwhelmed by rising waiting lists that together are combining to damage patient care.

“It also highlights the current organisational chaos where parts of the NHS are facing debts while others have surpluses. The NAO rightly suggests that we end the use of payment by results as a funding method for the NHS and move towards a system advocated by the BMA which supports collaborative working.

“We should see the NHS as one functioning, cooperative whole and not a fragmented system.

“Despite the government’s promises, the BMA remains concerned that the extra funding promised to address these issues will not reach the frontline.

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“The recent settlement for the NHS will be applied to NHS England’s budget rather than overall health care spending, meaning that vital areas will miss out on the additional expenditure, such as public health, education and training and capital investment.

“Given the lack of growth in these key parts of the NHS and taking into consideration other issues such as inflation, the overall increase in the NHS budget will be closer to three per cent rather than 3.4 per cent.

“As the BMA has highlighted, funding uplifts need to be at a much higher level, with improvements to the quality and range of care requiring a rise of 4.1 per cent annually over the next 15 years.

“These financial problems are set against the backdrop of the chaos that is Brexit which could be disastrous for the health service’s workforce. The one in 13 NHS doctors from EU countries have not had their future clarified while recruitment from overseas, a vital competent of the NHS operation, continues to face challenges.

“Given this environment, we do need the government to urgently ensure the NHS Long Term Plan is built into a strategy that not only provides stability, but also gives the NHS the resources to meet the growing needs of its patients and to fund a proper workforce.”

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