One of the most important individuals in the NHS has opined that austerity policies being operated by the Conservative party could lead to the end of the NHS that we are familiar with.
The crisis gripping the cash-strapped health service could “bring into question is the entire sustainability of the NHS model”, Chris Hopson commented.
And speaking before MPs, Chief Executive Simon Stevens blamed ministers for failing to invest satisfactorily in the health service.
Several authoritative organisations have come forward to outline their concerns about the NHS system, and the Labour Party has accused the prime minister of “burying her head in the sand” over NHS difficulties.
And experts also suggest that the cold weather hitting Britain in the coming weeks will pile even further pressure on the already stretched healthcare system.
Stevens aimed the blame for the mess squarely at the Conservative government.
“Over the next three years funding is going to be highly constrained. In 2018-19, real terms NHS spending per person in England is going to go down, 10 years after Lehman Brothers and austerity began. We all understand why that is but let’s not pretend that that’s not placing huge pressure on the service.”
And in a comment rather obviously aimed at the prime minister, Stevens also observed that “there are clearly very substantial pressures and I don’t think it helps anybody to try and pretend that there aren’t.”
May has previously responded to requests for further NHS funding by committing to a £10 billion investment during this Parliament.
This was an increase on the £8 billion that had been promised previously.
But Stevens rejected this as being insignificant.
“I think it would be stretching it to say the NHS has got more than it asked for,” the NHS head stated.
Meanwhile, NHS Providers chief executive Hopson opined that the current crisis, and climate of under-investment, threatens the entire existence of the NHS as a publicly-funded, free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare system.
“We have reached the point in the NHS where we can no longer deliver everything that has been asked of the NHS. If the Government has fixed the money, which the Chancellor said very clearly in his Autumn Statement he was not going to change the spending envelope for the rest of the Parliament, then the NHS has to ask the really difficult question of what is it not going to do.”
A regular meeting of NHS chiefs discussed “at what point does public confidence in the NHS model of care, delivered free at the point of use based on clinical need not the ability to pay, come into question,” Hopson revealed, underlining his point on the future of the NHS.