Hospital Dr News

Tory manifesto pledges on NHS funding criticised for inadequacy

The Tory manifesto pledge to increase NHS spending each year to £8bn a year extra by 2022 has been labelled inadequate by health experts.

The Nuffield Trust warns that the share of Britain’s national income going to the NHS will continue to shrink, from 7.3% to 7%.

It says that none of the political parties’ commitments buck this trend and “we are on course for more than a decade of unprecedented austerity”.

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The pledge of a further £8 billion by 2022/23, above 2017/18 spending, does not get us to a long-term funding settlement.

“It is unclear how much new money this represents, or exactly when it would come onstream. We do not yet know whether promises of upgrades for buildings and IT will be backed by new spending: the pledge does not apply to the £13.5bn of health funding not held by NHS England.”

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, welcomed the commitment to back the NHS five year forward view and sustainability and transformation plans and to legislate, if necessary, to speed up implementation of essential changes to NHS services.

He said the pledge to review the internal market is a significant acknowledgement that collaboration rather than competition offers the best way of sustaining and transforming services.

However, he said: “The £8 billion in additional funding over the next five years does little more than extend the squeeze on NHS finances for another two years and will not be enough to meet rising demand for services and maintain current standards of care.

“The Conservatives need to be honest with the public about the consequences for patients and their care.”

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, accused the Tories of “smoke and mirrors” on the additional funding.

He said: “This pledge essentially extends the funding already promised in the 2015 spending review for another two years and falls far short of what is needed.

“The NHS is already at breaking point, and without the necessary investment patients will face longer delays, care will be compromised and services will struggle to keep up.

“Providing additional care across the week requires not just more funding, but more doctors, nurses, diagnostic and community care staff, otherwise exiting staff will be stretched even more thinly than they already are.”

He also criticised the lack of recognition or support for public health, which he described as a “ticking time bomb”.

Porter welcomed the Tories commitment to seek assurances for EU staff working in the NHS as part of Brexit negotiations.

But he warned that the emphasis on training future doctors in the UK will not solve the current workforce crisis. He said any future government must address the reasons why so many UK-trained doctors are considering leaving the NHS rather than forcing doctors to stay in the health service.

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