The King's Fund has produced a devastating analysis of the impact of the coalition government's austerity measures on the NHS and on Social Care. Cuts in local government funding of some 40% have led to a 20% cut in funding of social care provision. This in turn has led to an increased load on the NHS at a time when funding has been restricted and it has had to find £20 billion in 'efficiency savings'. The real terms increase in spending on the NHS over the last five years is the lowest it has ever been at 0.9% per year. The result is an NHS in crisis with patient care under risk.
it estimated that a funding gap of £30 billion will develop over the next five years.
Today the BMA, the doctor's representative body has issued its response to the King's Fund report.
Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said:
“This report highlights the damage done to the NHS by the Health and Social Care 2012, which distracted attention from rising pressure on services and cost billions to introduce.
“Staff have done as much as they can to protect and improve patient care but, as this report lays bare, after years of underfunding the cracks are beginning to show. Patients face longer waits for treatment, services are stretched close to breaking point and staff are under unsustainable pressure.
“The NHS is the best health care system in the world, and the most efficient - there is no fat left to cut without patient care being hit. The report makes clear that further cuts to front-line staff pay are not a solution to the funding crisis in the NHS. Instead they leave staff feeling demoralised and devalued at a time when they’re working harder than ever to deliver for patients.
“With an election weeks away, politicians of all parties must stop using the NHS as a political football. Rather than short-term political game playing, the NHS needs a long-term, fully funded plan to protect patient care, support front-line staff and ensure it can rise to the enormous challenges facing it.”
Just five years ago the coalition promised to 'ring-fence' the NHS from the measures to cut the deficit. This it has signally reneged on. David Cameron promised there would be no 'too down' reorganisation of the NHS. This he has reneged on. At a time when it has faced severe financial pressure the government embarked on an extensive reorganisation of the commissioning process, which it did without proper consultation.
The King's Fund report is a shocking indictment of the coalition's approach to the NHS and social care.