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NHS needs an extra £4bn next year, Chancellor told

NHS needs an extra £4bn next year, Chancellor told

The Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund said current spending falls ‘well short’ of the cash the NHS needs as austerity bites.
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The Chancellor must find at least £4bn more for the NHS in the Budget to stop patient care deteriorating next year,  healthcare charities warn.

The Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund said current spending falls ‘well short’ of the cash the NHS needs as austerity bites.

They called on Philip Hammond to dig deep and find extra cash so patients do not suffer.

They estimate there will be a funding gap of at least £20bn by 2022/23 based on the government’s current spending plan.

The NHS will face a crunch year in 2018/19, when it celebrates its 70th birthday, with funding per person  due to fall by 0.3%, they warned.

Nigel Edwards, the chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: ‘The problem simply isn’t going to go away with one-off bungs or bailouts and is driving hospitals into deficit and causing patients to wait longer and longer for treatment.’

The charities want the government to increase NHS spending in real terms every year, make an immediate down payment  on its pledge to increase NHS funding by £8bn by the end of the parliament and fully fund pay rises, rather than using money from the existing NHS funding settlement.

They also called for an extra £10bn for essential repairs and improve deteriorating facilities.

However, they issued a stark warning and said this is not enough to close the funding gap by 2022/23.

Unless spending rises to meet demand with a cash injection of at least £4bn next year ‘patients will wait longer for treatment, more services will be rationed and quality of care will deteriorate,’ they said .

The government should halt further cuts to public health budgets, said the charities.

They also want an independent body set up to assess long-term health and care spending , putting paid to short-termism.

The King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said: ‘After seven years of austerity, the dramatic improvements made in health care over the last 20 years are at risk of slipping away.

‘The message is clear – unless the government finds the money the NHS and social care need, patients, service users and their families will suffer the consequences.’

Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation said the NHS risked slipping below the standards offered by our European neighbours.

‘This is entirely avoidable. An extra £4bn in 2018/19 would simply be a return to the average increases of the first 63 years of the NHS’s history.

‘The additional funding required is not exceptional, it is the last seven year of austerity that are the exception,’ she said.

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