NHS is financially unsustainable, says NAO

 

The NHS continues to be in crisis. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the NHS is financially unsustainable. The Prime Minister’s plan to increase the NHS budget by £20.5 billion by 2023-2024 may not be sufficient enough to cover services such as social and mental health care.

According to NAO additional funding has been provided, however, it has been spent on existing pressures within the healthcare service. The Head of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse says:

The NHS has received extra funding, but this has mostly been used to cope with current pressures and has not provided the stable platform intended from which to transform services. Repeated short-term funding-boosts could turn into the new normal, when the public purse may be better served by a long-term funding settlement that provides a stable platform for sustained improvements.

In 2016-2017, the NHS received an additional £1.8 billion in Sustainability and Transformation Fund which also intended to give the NHS stability, to improve and transform performance and services in order to achieve a sustainable healthcare system. 

Although the fund has assisted in the overall financial improvement, the NHS is still struggling to achieve targets with its high demand and restricted budget.

Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP, responds to the NAO’s report on NHS financial sustainability:

The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history, with swingeing cuts to public health services and the slashing of social care services.

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

The NAO report has come as a surprise to some as the news of an additional £20.5 billion was the Government’s proposed solution to the NHS crisis. However, the NAO report indicates that the money may not be sufficient enough as other areas of the health service have been neglected for years.  This is a great indicator that simply throwing money at a system is not a solution. There needs to be a strategic plan to improve a system that the majority of public members rely on. Waiting times continue to slip and there is an increasing problem with the workforce. The NHS cannot work for the public if it does not have the right amount of workers.

These are the same issues we had for years yet, we still have no solution.  As previously reported NHS Leaders were forced to delay publication of long term plans due to the Brexit chaos. The current Government’s focus is not its people.

The Government needs a reminder of what the NHS set out to do when it was established in 1948 following the Second World War. The principles were to provide a universal and comprehensive service. Currently, the NHS is failing at providing a comprehensive service however, this is not because they refuse to but because they do not have the necessary backing from the Government to provide the public with an efficient service.

NHS Leaders Forced To Delay Publication of Long Term Plan Amid Brexit Chaos

 

NHS bosses have been forced to delay the publication of the health service’s most important document as of yet; the long-term plan. The document elaborates how the NHS plans to spend the introduced £20.5bn budget increase in the next few years. It was due to be published in the week commencing the 17th December 2018 as  Theresa May committed to increasing the NHS’s budget by £20.5bn a year, by 2023-24. The Prime Minister told NHS England to produce a plan, however, this publication of document has been postponed until January 2019.

The chaos surrounding Brexit at the moment hinders ministers to consider the plan in its entire depth. Nonetheless, ministers have been warned that the £20bn will not be sufficient to pay for all the improvements they would like to see as there are many issues within the NHS that needs to be improved. One common problem would be the lack of staff which leads to further issues in providing a public health service. It has been reported that thousands of nurses and other health professionals have quit the NHS mental health service with two thousand mental health staff leaving a month, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Services are struggling to cope with an increase of individuals seeking help for mental health such as anxiety, and other disorders and a lack of staff to provide an efficient service.

In addition, patients are continuously unhappy with the long waiting list and the A&Es being overcrowded on an annual basis.  Jonathan Ashworth MP, the Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary said:

“This is a government dismally paralysed by the ongoing Tory civil war over the Brexit shambles. It will be an utterly embarrassing failure of leadership if the health secretary can’t get an NHS plan published because of the ongoing squabbling”.

 

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

The NHS has been heavily criticised for the inefficient service it has been providing the public. Criticism of the waiting lists getting longer, not being able to get an appointment in a short period of time,  staff shortages and the poor quality of services, to name a few criticisms. It is, therefore, fair to say that we need urgent action now and the delay in publishing this important document simply because the government cannot decide on who should be their leader and cannot internally agree on a Brexit deal is unfair. This government is unable to take anything forward at the moment. Other departments should not be put on a backburner. Brexit should not be the be-all and end-all for this country. We have to move on.

The NHS spending document is set to be published in January.

Matt Hancock Accused Of Breaking Ministerial Code

The Labour Party has written to Theresa May demanding an investigation after it has been revealed Health Secretary Matt Hancock has potentially broken ministerial code. The Conservative MP has been representing West Suffolk since 2010 and was appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in 2018. Matt Hancock has been accused of breaking ministerial code by endorsing a private healthcare company.

An interview with the MP of West Suffolk appeared in the Evening Standard which also had financial support from a firm called Babylon. The article was published on Tuesday and featured the Babylon logo and stated that the firm was the newspaper’s partner.

Hancock has shown admiration for the company’s GP at Hand app, which allows users to have visual consultations with doctors via their smartphone. He was quoted “this technology allows more resources for the people visiting GPs directly”.

Justin Madders MP, Shadow Health Minister has stated that Hancock repeatedly promoted the app and the company and has therefore breached a vital section of the Ministerial code. He has been accused of breaching sections 7.12 and 7.13 of the ministerial code. The code states that ministers should not ‘normally accept invitations to act as patrons of, or otherwise offer support to, pressure groups, or organisations dependent in whole or in part on government funding’.

A final comment- From Editor- Heidi Boahen

As an MP, it is his duty to represent his constituency and as a Secretary for Health and Social Care, it is Hancock’s duty to not only do what is best for his department but to also follow Miniserial codes by all means.

It has been stated that Matt Hancock was not aware that Babylon would sponsor the article which could be a possibility as a representative from the Evening Standard has stated that Matt Hancock was approached for an interview, and he agreed. However, this issue requires further investigation by the Prime Minister. If the Department of Health and Social Care is working towards a tech ecosystem within the NHS then this has to be done in such a way that it follows guidelines and codes.