The outgoing boss of the health regulator Monitor has suggested that NHS providers will face massive problems in ensuring that the deficit of the health service dips beneath projected figures.
Recent predictions related to the health service indicate that a hefty deficit of £2 billion is expected by the end of the fiscal year.
With regard to this, Bennett has suggested that national bodies must ensure tariff prices for next year impose a savings requirement of no more than 2 per cent.
In fact, Bennett believes that trusts across the NHS will actually do well to keep the deficit as low as £2 billion.
The latest comments are just another indication of the problems that the NHS faces.
At the same time that the Conservative government has stated that the health service must switch to a seven-day culture, massive financial difficulties are quite evident.
The NHS also faces a deficit of £30 billion between now and the end of the decade, with the Tories suggesting that this will mostly have to be plugged via efficiency savings.
Meanwhile, recent reports have suggested that the occupancy levels in the NHS are already running at winter levels, ahead of the busiest time of the year.
Monitor is jointly responsible with NHS England for setting tariff prices.
Bennett commented that the balancing of payments between Monitor and NHS England could have been handled better, but that there were more fundamental problems in the NHS leading to financial difficulties.
Although Bennett’s comments were relatively guarded considering his position, the remarks are yet another indication that the NHS is facing arguably the most critical period in the entire history of the health service.
While the government has already pledged £8 billion of extra spending on the NHS between now and 2020, it seems increasingly certain that this will be a mere drop in the ocean compared to what is required.
Indeed, it has already been suggested by one prominent Chief Executive that the entire health service could grind to a halt over the next 12 months.
While some of the prognostications related to the NHS and the existing financial year have raised eyebrows and paint a worrying picture, in fact Bennett suggests that they are a best-case scenario.
Increasingly, it simply appears that the government’s position on the health service is little short of delusional, and that the entire ethos of the policy must be rethought in the coming years if disaster is to be averted.