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NHS needs funds immediately, warns select committee

Houses of Parliament Westminster

Politicians and health leaders must find money for the most stricken NHS organisations and produce a sustainable plan for the health service’s future immediately.

That is the call from the Commons PAC (public accounts committee) in a report published today, which reveals that Government cuts are having an impact on patient care and the NHS’s finances are unsustainable.

The report also warns that social care is unable to cope with rising demand and dwindling resource and that the Government must produce a recovery plan by July 17.

Doctors leaders said the PAC report shows the NHS is at breaking point.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said: ‘The simple fact is that the NHS is at breaking point because politicians have chosen to underfund our health and social care system and ignore the warnings of healthcare professionals. Tragically it is our patients who are unfairly suffering the consequences of these bad choices.

‘The concern for patients, the public and NHS staff is that the Government doesn’t have an answer to the £30bn funding shortfall in the NHS in England.

'Now is the time to put politics to one side and reach a cross-party consensus on how to tackle this crisis in the long term by funding services to meet the needs that we know patients have.’

The report also warns that politicians and health leaders have failed to make the public confident that STPs (sustainability and transformation plans) are not simply a vehicle for further cuts to services.

 

Cash unavailable

It comes after BMA News analysis found that the plans would make savings of £26bn and that £9.5bn of up-front capital would be needed to carry them out – but the cash is unavailable.

The report also criticised the Department of Health for raiding its capital budget to cover day-to-day costs in hospitals.

Dr Porter said: ‘These MPs are the latest in a long line of people growing sceptical about the success of STPs.

‘We already know that the vital funding needed to carry out these plans simply isn’t available – our own analysis found that STPs need at least £9.5bn of capital funding to be delivered successfully but this cash doesn’t exist. The capital budget is already being raided and as this report highlights robbing Peter to pay Paul will only be bad for patient care in the long run.’

The report says: ‘In its analysis of the 44 sustainability and transformation footprints, due by the end of March 2017, NHS England and NHS Improvement should set out how they will support organisations to deliver real transformation in the areas where plans fall short. They also need to convince the public of the benefits of the plans to them.’

The latest warnings follow a series of concerns raised from all corners about the state, and future, of the NHS.

Just last week a BMA study revealed that a sustained fall in the number of overnight hospital beds has created a ‘mismatch’ between supply and demand in the NHS.

The report revealed a 20 per cent drop in the number of available mental health beds since 2010/11, while in the first week of January, three quarters of hospitals operated at 95 per cent bed occupancy or more on at least one day.

Furthermore, one in seven patients waited more than four hours in emergency departments for beds last November.

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