The King's Fund has called for an additional £2 billion in funding for the NHS ahead of the Autumn Statement.
The think tank argues that the settlement agreed for the NHS in 2015/16 should be re-opened to prevent a financial crisis. Unless this money is found, it says
patients will bear the cost as staff numbers are cut, waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates.
Figures published in November show that, halfway through the year, provider trusts are in deficit by £630 million, significantly worse than at the end of the first
quarter. At the same time, NHS performance is beginning to slip, with A&E waiting times at their highest levels at this time of year for a decade and target waits for hospital treatment, diagnostic tests and cancer treatment being breached on a regular basis.
The NHS faces huge pressures as a result of an unprecedented funding squeeze, rising demand for services and the need to safeguard quality of care following the Francis report into the tragic events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. In addition to the challenges facing hospitals, the briefing highlights pressures on general practice and mental health services, with evidence suggesting that increasing numbers of vulnerable patients with mental health problems are being admitted to hospital, held in police cells and sent a long way from their local area for treatment.
Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King's Fund said: 'There is scope to improve productivity in the NHS, but this will not be enough to respond to unprecedented
pressures on budgets and meet rising demand for services. Recent pledges from the main political parties to increase funding are welcome but it is clear
that none of them have yet addressed the scale or the urgency of the financial challenge facing the NHS. With deficit reduction still a high priority, finding an
additional £2 billion in the Autumn Statement is a very big ask. However, unless more money is found, a financial crisis is inevitable next year and patients will
bear the cost as waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates.'
The King’s Fund’s briefing on the Autumn Statement was published on Wednesday 26 November. To request a copy of the briefing or an interview with one of their spokespeople, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035)