New report shows need for long-term NHS funding solution

By Julie Griffiths on 25 May 2018 NHS Funding NHS

A report on NHS funding reveals the extent to which health spending would need to rise to provide the same level of service it does today in the future.

The report says that UK health spending will need to increase by £95bn by 2033-34, rising from 7.3% of national income this year to 8.9% of national income, to maintain current service levels – increases of 3.3% a year.

However, increases of approximately 4% a year will be needed if the government wishes to improve NHS services, including meeting waiting times targets and addressing under-provision in mental health services.

The findings also reveal that some ‘catch-up’ money will be needed over the next five years to maintain services and address the backlog of funding problems. It’s estimated that his will require funding to grow by 5% a year, before falling back to levels closer to the historic trend of 3.7%.

The report suggest that meeting these pressures will almost certainly require tax increases, as cuts in spending on other services are unsustainable following eight years of austerity. RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes said that this report shows starkly why the NHS, including maternity services, has been struggling so much over recent years to provide safe and high quality care.

He added: ‘Demand on the NHS and its maternity services is increasing yet funding for it, as this shows, has not been enough to meet that demand. ‘We have recently had a commitment from the government to fund more midwifery training places, which is very, very welcome after over a decade of midwife shortages. But that is only half of a solution and the NHS needs enough money to be able to employ these new midwives when they qualify.’

Jon said that social care also needs adequate funding because without good social care the efforts of the NHS can often be wasted: ‘We need a virtuous circle in health and social care not a vicious cycle where poor care in one area can impact on the other.’

The report from the Health Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in association with NHS Confederation can be read here.