According to research conducted by the King’s Fund, Britain is spending significantly less on its health service compared to international neighbours.
And the organisation predicts that by the end of the decade the figures spent on health in the United Kingdom will be more than £43 billion less than the average spend by Eurozone countries.
The UK is devoting a diminishing proportion of GDP to health and is now a lowly 13th out of the original 15 EU members in terms of investment.
While the government claims that it has invested a significant tranche of cash into the health service, this latest research contradicts these claims.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, had already promised an additional £8.4 billion in real terms by the end of the decade.
However, the NHS faces deficits of £30 billion by 2020, and the lion’s share of this is to be addressed via efficiency savings.
Commenting on this report, Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, suggested that the government policy is nothing less than a dereliction of duty towards a revered British institution.
“No amount of spin from ministers can disguise the fact that this decade is set to be marked by the longest and deepest squeeze on NHS finances in a generation. Our country is increasingly looking like the sick person of Europe, with spending on health falling far behind other neighbouring countries. This squeeze on health spending is bad for the NHS and it is bad for patients. It is clear that our health service is going to need much more money than this government is prepared to spend.”
Professor John Appleby, who led the study, outlined the raw data behind the assertion of the King’s Fund in an article.
“UK GDP is forecast to grow in real terms by around 15.2% between 2014-15 and 2020-21. But on current plans, UK NHS spending will grow by much less – 5.2%. This is equivalent to around £7bn in real terms, increasing from £135bn in 2014-15 to £142bn in 2020-21. But if spending kept pace with growth in the economy, by 2020-21 the UK NHS would be spending around £158bn at today’s prices – £16bn more than planned.”
It is increasingly obvious based on the avalanche of data emerging that massive investment is required in the NHS in the foreseeable future.
This is succinctly illustrated by the funding problems that the health service faces, coupled with a raft of logistical and labour-related issues.
The report from the King’s Fund simply provides another example of this increasingly evident trend.
However, commenting on the latest research, the Department of Health nevertheless defended The existing NHS budget.
“Rather than there being a political decision about levels of spending on healthcare, for the first time ever, the NHS said collectively in the Five Year Forward View what it needed for the future to transform services for patients. We’re meeting our side of the bargain, with £10bn more from a strong economy, raising the NHS budget to the highest level in its history and increasing spending every year. We will also ensure the NHS gives good value for taxpayers.”