Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair
“Two key figures in the NHS have admitted what we already know: there is not enough money to fund our health service. The government talks about injecting £10bn into the NHS, yet in reality the increase in health spending is less than half of that.
“Instead of outlining a plan to deal with the crisis, the government has tried to play down the pressure that services are under. The government cannot continue to stick its head in the sand. Our hospitals are in the red, GPs are unable to keep up with the number of patients coming through the surgery door, patients are suffering and staff are working under impossible conditions.
“With transformation plans likely to make up to £26bn in cuts to health and social care across the country, now more than ever we need a bold plan from the government and a commitment to invest what is needed – on both fronts, the government is falling well short.”
Paul Briddock, Director of Policy at HFMA
“The state of the NHS has been leading the news agenda this week. In the midst of a difficult winter for the service, many are again highlighting the severe pressures the NHS is under, and calling leaders to account. However, it is fair to say that those working in the sector have seen this coming for a while, and have been doing their best to deliver against an increasing demand and with limited resources available.
“Finance directors have been warning for some time about the impact the current financial situation would have on the quality of services. This week’s reports of waiting times and missed targets are the ongoing signs of a decline in quality for patients across the UK. In July and December last year, HFMA’s NHS Financial Temperature Check showed that more than one in five finance directors believed the quality of patient services would deteriorate in 2016/17, and before this in November 2015, some 43% said they didn’t think the NHS could continue to deliver the current levels of quality within the levels of increased funding currently promised. News this week shows this was not media scare-mongering, but a reality check on the pressures the NHS is under and expected to deliver against.
“Looking ahead, finance directors are even more pessimistic about quality in 2017/18 than they are about this financial year, with 32% of CCGs and 47% of trusts feeling there will be a reduction in quality, which will further impact waiting times and access to services. Yet, calls for more cash are unlikely to be granted, as despite the vast overall deficit still existing, Q2 results showed that it was only £22m worse than planned and there was a reduction in the number of trusts in deficit, as well as an improvement in the monthly run rate compared to the same period last year. Although we won’t see the impact of this in the short-term, and there is still a very long way to go, hopefully we can move in the right financial direction for 2017, and in advance of the pressures next winter will bring.”
Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem health spokesman
“These worrying comments reinforce the case for a fresh approach to NHS funding. The government must stop trying to shoot the messenger and admit that current levels of under funding are not sustainable.
“We urgently need serious cross-party discussions on how to fund the NHS and social care in the long-term, or standards will fall and patients will suffer. Partisan politics has failed, and no one party can provide a solution to this crisis.
“My genuine hope is that the prime minister’s acceptance of my request to meet might be the start of a more rational approach, which could provide the NHS and social care with the resources they need to provide high-quality care for future generations.”