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Politicians urged to reach cross-party agreement on NHS funding

Calls to set up a cross-party enquiry into the NHS are growing louder amid the ongoing pressures on both primary and secondary care.

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is the latest to reiterate the suggestion, saying that ‘given the current political situation, a Royal Commission appears the only way of getting any kind of consensus behind significant reform to the NHS’.

This comes as 90 MPs, led by former health minister Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem), health select committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (Con) and former shadow health minister Liz Kendall MP (Lab), signed a call for a cross-party commission last year.

The CPS said a commission should consider the ‘structure, funding and sustainability of the NHS in England as a whole’ as well as practical issues such as GPs’ role in commissioning.

It should also consider integrating health and social care; the case for and against greater private sector involvement in delivering health care; tensions between patient privacy and better use of health data; and potential additional sources of revenue to complement tax.

‘The aim should be to produce a blueprint that delivers the best possible health outcomes over the coming decades at the lowest cost,’ the CPS report said.

CPS director Robert Colvile said a Royal Commission could ‘provide the kind of full-scale diagnosis needed to restore it to health, rather than having the health service limp on as best it can’.

CPS chair Lord Saatchi commented: The wonderful dream of the NHS is turning into a recurring winter nightmare – and leaving it alone is a recipe for long-term catastrophe.’

It comes as earlier this week MPs voted in support of a Labour Party motion urging the Government to fund hospitals to ‘resume full service’ amid winter pressures.