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Hospitals tell Jeremy Hunt to increase NHS budget now or face consequences

The pressures the NHS is currently facing from rising demand should be seen as “a watershed moment” by the government and prompt a re-think on its level of funding.

That’s the view of Chris Hopson, the CEO of NHS Providers, who has written a letter to the Health Secretary warning that the NHS can no longer deliver “the constitutional standards to which it is committed”.

NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, claims that the policy of small budgetary increases – introduced as part of the coalition government’s implementation of austerity in 2010 – is damaging patient care and has caused serious staffing problems and led to key targets being routinely missed.

It comes a day after Jeremy Hunt admitted to MPs that the NHS will need “significantly more funding” over the next decade in order to do its job.

Chris Hopson said: “The NHS is at a watershed moment.

“Despite planning for winter more thoroughly and extensively than before, it hasn’t been sufficient. Rising numbers of flu cases and more respiratory illness have placed intolerable pressures on staff.

“The NHS is no longer able to deliver the constitutional standards to which it is committed. We need to be realistic about what we can provide on the funding available.

“If we continue to run the NHS at close to 100% capacity, day in day out, permanently in the red zone, it’s not surprising that the service can’t cope when we get a high, but entirely predictable, spike in demand.”

NHS Providers, like many representative organisations, is calling on the Government to review what is required for a sustainable health service.

Hopson added: “We have reached the point where we can no longer delay key decisions on the long term funding of health and social care.

“A government-led process must draw upon the high-quality work on future health and care spending, including the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Office for Budget Responsibility, the Barker Commission for The King’s Fund on how to pool health and care funding, and several all-party parliamentary committees which have looked at what is needed to create a sustainable NHS.

“Failure to act now will lead to targets moving further out of reach. This would harm the quality of care, causing delays and distress for patients and weakening staff morale. It could also undermine public faith in the NHS.”

These decisions must be put in place no later than the November Budget 2018 or it risks further deterioration in performance, the organisation said.

Read the full letter.


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