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Is the financial band aid currently covering the NHS about to fall off?

By Nicolle Laurie, Consultant, London office

The NHS not having enough money is something that, by now, we are used to hearing. This issue was first thrust into the public limelight with the release of the ‘Five Year Forward View’ in 2014 that identified the need to have an additional £8 billion a year worth of NHS funding up until 2020 just to maintain the current quality of services. However, the news regarding NHS finances is not improving going into 2016, with the release of a report by the King’s Fund outlining how the UK’s spending on health care compares to other European countries and internationally.

According to the report the UK’s spending on the health service is falling, and by 2020 it will be £43bn less a year than the average spent by its European neighbours. This research studied figures from 2013 when the UK spent 8.5% of its GDP on healthcare, which lagged behind Greece, Italy and Slovenia.

Professor Jon Appleby, who is the fund’s chief economist, has said that the ‘UK GDP is forecast to grow in real terms by around 15.2 per cent between 2014/15 and 2020/21. But on current plans UK public spending on the NHS will grow by much less: 5.2 per cent’ - this is even despite the governments push for a seven day NHS. This report is concerning given the Government’s repeated claims that they are giving enough money to the NHS and rescuing it from financial peril. The Department of Health has responded to this report by saying that it is giving the NHS the required funding that was set out in the ‘Five Year Forward View’.  The Labour Party are also unable to make a commitment that they would increase NHS spending in line with GDP.

A survey of the British public, carried out in 2015, felt that “improving the NHS” was one of the publics three most pressing issues facing Britain. Let’s hope that the financial band aid currently covering the NHS will be enough to keep up with the country’s healthcare needs.


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