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NHS is 'heading for major crisis' and needs new money now, King's Fund warns

The Government needs to add new funding to the NHS budget now or it will enter a major crisis, an influential think-tank has warned.

In a new report, out today (1 May), King’s Fund researchers concluded that despite significant savings achieved under the QIPP programme - which aims to make savings of £20bn by 2015 - the NHS will soon run out of money.

And neither the Government nor the Labour Party can afford to wait until after the next general election to broach the topic of increasing the health budget, the report warned, especially with the new integrated care fund set to slice a further £1.8bn off the health budget from April 2015.

The report said: ‘There is growing evidence of financial pressures building in the NHS this year; 2015/16 has been cited as a possible financial ‘cliff edge’ as providers plan to cut emergency and other elective work as part of the opportunity cost of diverting a further £1.8 billion of NHS allocations to consolidate the £3.8 billion Better Care Fund.’

‘On its current trajectory, the health and social care system in England is rapidly heading towards a major crisis.’

But instead of just adding new money across the board, the Government should use it as a ‘transformational fund’, the King’s Fund said, ‘including to establish integrated health and social care teams in the community that would work closely with general practices to support people in their homes and over time reduce inappropriate use of hospital services’.

‘The NHS and social care need more money to make the transition to a more sustainable footing. This should be an explicit and upfront investment to enable services to invest in new models in primary and community settings and to help the hospital sector make the concomitant transition,’ the report said.

However despite the call for new money, the King’s Fund said there is still scope to improve efficiency in the NHS and these efforts should be ‘re-doubled’. This should include measures such as GP triaging in A&E departments, GPs providing more telephone consultations and GPs directly sharing patient records with other parts of the health and care service being spread throughout the NHS, the report suggested.

John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund and lead author of the report, said: ‘There is still scope to improve efficiency in the health service, and efforts to release savings should be re-doubled. However, it is now a question of when, not if, the NHS runs out of money.’

‘Without significant additional funding, this will lead to rising waiting times, cuts in staff and deteriorating quality of care. It is essential that politicians from all parties are honest about the scale of the financial pressures facing the NHS and initiate a public debate about the long-term sustainability of the health and social care system before, not after, the general election.’

Commenting on the report, a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The difficult economic decisions this Government has taken have meant we have been able to protect the NHS budget and as a result the NHS is performing well despite rapidly rising demand.’

‘To ensure the NHS is sustainable in the long-term we need to continue to invest more in out of hospital care, make better use of technology and innovation while never compromising on the quality of care.’

Earlier this year, an influential group of MPs also warned that the QIPP programme was not enough for the NHS to remain sustainable.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Anyone working in the NHS knows the crisis has already arrived .

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  • Absolutely - crisis well and truly established already. The NHS is in PEA arrest and needs some desperate CPR... Unfortunately even if ROSC is achieved it might already be too late and irreversible injury may have already occurred. It is unlikely the govt would wish to escalate to level 3 care...

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  • Get rid of this gnikcuf stupid internal market .

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  • And what do bears do in the woods again!

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  • no one is ACTUALLY surprised about this are they?

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  • The Daily Mail will probably suggest arresting all GPs, waterboarding them and confiscating all their possessions. Usually violent ranting and political thuggery is the drivel written.

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  • Im sure HMG+ SOS will be completletely surprised as they ringfenced the NHS with no cuts(Ha ha Ha)and promised no top down reform which they completely renaged on both counts.

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  • More telephone appts? On the whole, these take as long as a face-to-face appt - by the time the patient answers, or more usually, the missed calls, then phoning back at their very own convenience, which then adds more disruption to the day, telephone appts are as onerous as any other type.

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  • "integrated health and social care teams in the community that would work closely with general practices to support people in their homes and over time reduce inappropriate use of hospital services’."
    Been waiting for our regulalry timetabled (and very rarely attended face to face meeting with the District Nurses - Not a Nurse in sight!!. I know this is not ideologically correct (now) but under fundholding I used to walk into their office upstairs & talk to them. Now I have a "single point of access" 111 style and never see them. = That's Progress not

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  • It is OK, the doctors and nurses will get the blame anyway.
    Mid - Staffs was a 5* hospital in 1997. Huge CUTS in staffing levels produced a tragedy of poor care and death of patients. The remaining staff were depressed, demoralised and demotivated.
    Yet, the Francis report literally blames the staff and introduces a NEW culture of care, NOT you notice the re-introduction of the staff that made it 5* in the first place.
    The report is preposterous.
    The Trust had no duty of care to its staff, the Management went up and the staff went down.
    It is OK and fine. When the NHS collapses from cuts and more cuts, don't worry the doctors and nurses will get the blame for poor care.

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