The Health Foundation has responded to today's publication of the National Audit Office's annual report on the financial sustainability of the NHS.
Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said:
'The health service has a new long-term plan but this is not 'job done'. NHS England has received a welcome 3.4% funding increase but growth is more modest in the early years, with the biggest increase not planned until 2023/24. There is therefore a very real risk that acute short-term pressures crowd out investment that is vital to putting the NHS on a stable and sustainable footing.
'At present there is no sign of an end to the sustained cuts to public health, capital spending and workforce training budgets, all of which directly impact on patient care and productivity. Unless the 2019 Spending Review provides funding increases at least equivalent to that received by NHS England, the NHS’s ability to deliver the commitments set out in the plan will be severely hindered.
'The NHS has 100,000 fewer doctors, nurses and other health care professionals than it needs. Workforce shortages are the greatest threat to delivering high quality care to all those who need it. But spending on training and education has fallen by 17% in real terms over the last five years. Cuts of this scale to investment in people undermine the future sustainability of the NHS.
'Equally, the government’s long-awaited social care green paper has yet again been delayed, leaving thousands of vulnerable people without the care they need and piling further pressure on the NHS.
'It is essential that the government takes heed of this clear, independent evidence and recognises that further investment is needed to shore up the health service and deliver the commitments outlined in the plan.'
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The latest news and opinion from the Health Foundation on the NHS Long Term Plan.
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