The Health Foundation today responded to the report by the House of Lords Select Committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

Ruth Thorlby, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:

‘The Committee has rightly identified the phenomenon of short-term and uncoordinated planning that has been seen in health and social care, and public health, as well as the importance of restoring adequate funding as a first step to a sustainable future.   

‘The Committee’s recommendation to increase health spending in line with GDP is correct, and should be viewed as the absolute minimum needed for the next decade. This will be far from easy. In 2020, the government will still be running a deficit, and providing this extra funding without tax increases would mean eye-watering cuts to other public services, which may themselves be damaging for public health.

‘To protect the NHS from another period of rollercoaster funding settlements in the future, the committee recommends the creation of an independent standing body to assess long-term sustainability and consider funding alongside population needs and the implications for the health and social care workforce.

‘The creation of such a body deserves sober consideration. The complexity facing it should not be underestimated, and any such body would need to be adequately funded and its accountability and independence robustly underpinned. The body could be a promising vehicle for assessing some of the core principles underpinning the NHS, such as equity of access, and provide a base for understanding the impact of other government policies on people’s health.  

‘This report is a welcome call for more coordination in a system which can appear dauntingly fragmented even to those working in it. Many of its findings are consistent with work underway in the Five year forward view, and these principles of long-term, system-wide planning should underpin the decisions made throughout the health service and wider government.’

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