This is first of three Health Foundation briefings ahead of the 2017 General Election.
A strong NHS is vital for a thriving population, workforce and economy.
Public spending on healthcare currently accounts for just over 7% of our national wealth. That is not enough to cope with the ageing population and other cost pressures.
Projections by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility suggest that a real terms funding increase of around £30 billion a year is needed in five years’ time to enable the NHS to deal with these pressures.
Our analysis shows that none of the main political parties have pledged enough in their manifestos to cover even half of that, while the share of our national wealth spent on healthcare would fall under all of their plans.
The next Government must act quickly to strengthen the health service’s finances in the short term, as well as developing a sustainable, long-term approach to funding the NHS, to put an end to the current cycle of feast and famine. This should include establishing an independent body to assess and advise on health and social care funding needs.
The NHS must also focus on improving efficiency and use additional funding to reform care to meet changing population needs.
Failure to provide sufficient funding and improve efficiency will result in longer waiting times for patients, poorer access to cost effective drugs and treatments, and a decline in NHS and social care.
Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive, the Health Foundation; Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust; Chris Ham, Chief Executive, the King’s Fund
This letter first appeared in the Times on Tuesday 6 June 2017. See related article: NHS faces £20bn funding hole whoever wins (£).