Ahead of Wednesday’s budget, the NHS Confederation, which among others includes NHS Clinical Commissioners and the Mental Health Network, has called on the government to admit that the health service cannot provide everything for everybody with current levels of funding.
The Confederation and its networked organisations have also called for immediate extra funding for social care and a commitment to deal with longer term funding issues for both health and social care:
“We understand that the government has spared the NHS from some of the more severe cuts affecting other parts of the public sector, but this same period has witnessed unprecedented rising demand and unprecedented low growth in health spending. The NHS has managed better over the last few years than many predicted – it has been more resilient and done well to deliver the current levels and quality of service. But there is a need for a frank admission about the limitations as to what patients can expect, and a willingness at national level to acknowledge that services must be able to prioritise what they can and cannot provide.”
“The crisis in social care also needs to be addressed – even at the best of times, this service has been ignored and underfunded, but we are now at a critical point where local councils despite their best efforts are incapable of keeping up with demand, leaving more than one million older people in real need without any support whatsoever and health services, including mental health, overwhelmed.
“We acknowledge that the government has massive and challenging responsibilities in managing the economy and the Brexit process, but unless action is taken – immediately in the case of social care – the plight of patients and those who use social care will deteriorate further.
“We recognise the government may need a limited period to work out its preferred long-term solution to the social care funding problem, but that cannot be an excuse either for not acting now or for pushing major decisions into the future.
“It is already clear that many MPs from all parties are concerned and that concern will surely grow – this may be a funding headache now, if it not addressed it will become a political headache before long.
“The NHS and local government must play their part – funding should be conditional on reform, joined up services on the ground, and an absolute commitment to patients and others who use services rather than sectional or organisational interests.”