NHS staff and patients remain unsure about the Government’s long term plans for the service, despite new spending commitments announced yesterday, experts say.
Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget statement, which Labour attacked for only making passing mention of the NHS, the Nuffield Trust think-tank said the service still had “no certainty about wider funding plans up to 2020”.
While the Budget did confirm £1.25bn in investment over the next five years to improve children’s mental health services there was little detail on how a funding “black hole” predicted by 2020 would be filled.
Experts project the NHS is facing a £30bn funding gap by the end of the decade unless spending increases and the health service becomes more efficient.
NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, has indicated that the health service will need an extra £8bn a year by 2020 to close the gap. Even that figure is based on the assumption that the service can make £22bn of efficieny savings in the next five years.
Rob Webster, head of the NHS Confederation, said cuts to social care were having knock-on effects on the health service. “Social care is on its knees and the NHS is feeling the pain,” he said.