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Former health secretary calls for guaranteed 4% annual NHS funding increases

The Government must increase spending on health and social care by 4% year on year going forward, a former Conservative health secretary has said.

Stephen Dorrell, now chair of the NHS Confederation, said the country must ‘commit to making the hard choices’ if it wants the NHS to continue providing universal healthcare.

His demands, which come as the Government has said it is due to announce a long-term funding settlement for the NHS, are based on financial analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and health think tank the Health Foundation.

Their analysis of NHS and social care to 2030 has concluded that the NHS needs more than 3% year-on-year funding increases just to stand still.

Their report said: ‘Our analysis suggests that UK spending on healthcare will have to rise by an average 3.3% a year over the next 15 years just to maintain NHS provision at current levels, and by at least 4% a year if services are to be improved.’

In the opening speech to the NHS Confed 2018 Conference, Mr Dorrell said: ‘If we are to deliver universal healthcare which meets the needs of our changing population, the authors conclude that there needs to be a commitment to increase taxpayer resources available to both health and social care services at the rate of 4% per annum.

‘Not 4% for the NHS and a squeeze local government – or a special fund to ease the pressures on social care. But 4% per annum for the NHS and 4% per annum for social care, year on year, between now and 2030. Hard facts; hard choices.’

Also speaking at the conference, Institute of Fiscal Studies chair Paul Johnson said the Government would most likely need to raise income tax, National Insurance contributions or VAT in order to fund the required increase to NHS funding.

But, referring to Conservative Party pledges on the NHS, he said: ‘They are either going to have to raise taxes or throw their manifesto out of the window.’