The Government needs to stump up an extra £10bn next year to give the NHS a chance to make gains on the referral backlog and cover extra costs of Covid, the hospital sector has signalled.
The pandemic has raised the cost of running frontline NHS services by £4-5bn per year, according to a new report from NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation, based on survey data from 54% of secondary care providers.
In addition, £3.5-4.5bn will be needed in each of the next three years to ‘recover care backlogs’, they said.
The report also warned that a number of ‘lost’ referrals over the Covid-19 period will be coming forward, with the potential to increase that figure.
Over half (53%) of secondary care providers also said managing a longer waiting list is having a ‘very significant or significant’ impact on their running costs.
In response to the report, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The Government has a moral duty to commit to giving the NHS “whatever it needs” as per the Chancellor’s own words.’
He added: ‘Failing to provide adequate resources will result in more patients suffering, their health deteriorating, and in many cases not surviving.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in March last year that ‘whatever extra resources our NHS needs’ to cope with the coronavirus ‘it will get, whether that be millions, or billions, of pounds’.
In March 2021, the BMA and RCGP called for an ‘urgent’ extension to GP Covid funding beyond the end of March, ahead of the Budget announcement.
But Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The budget in April offered a woefully inadequate £1bn to go towards tackling the ever-growing backlog; failed to offer any significant additional funding for the health service to cope with the impact of the pandemic; and ignored our asks for investment into core NHS funding, people, public health and social care.’
The BMA previously called for ‘at least’ £4.9bn to tackle the non-Covid care backlog; £6.5bn capital funding to cover overdue maintenance costs; at least £4.2bn capital funding for wholesale digital transformation; and £1bn capital funding for GP premises ‘in order for the health service to get through Covid-19 and ensure that it can meet future demands’, Dr Nagpaul added.