The bosses of the ailing NHS want billions more to keep key services running this winter as Rishi Sunak rules out budget cuts as part of the government spending squeeze.
The £152bn a year health agency is asking for an additional £7bn this year – the equivalent of an extra five per cent of its budget – to counter the effects of skyrocketing inflation, wage increases and Covid costs.
Finance chiefs have warned vital cancer, mental health and primary care services are in danger of being cut unless the Treasury messes up the money.
Rishi Sunak’s government confirmed yesterday that the NHS will not fall victim to austerity measures, which will be worked out in a fortnight.
But the health agency, described by campaigners as a “black hole of taxpayers’ money,” will have to review its spending and become more efficient in return for protecting its cash, Whitehall insiders say.
It comes at a time when MPs and campaign groups are calling on the health service to sell its £12million art collection in order to save money, rather than allow hospitals to remain ‘mini art galleries’. However, the money it would bring is only a fraction of what bosses claim they need.
Hospitals are currently juggling a never-ending storm of crises hitting ER, ambulances and cancer care – on top of record backlogs, the looming threat of strikes and heightened winter pressure from Covid and flu.
Data from HM Treasury shows that the NHS received £100.4 billion in 2010/11 and the budget had grown steadily until 2019. In 2020, the NHS received £129.7bn in core funding for its usual services, supplemented by an additional £18bn to help with the pressures of the pandemic. For 2021/22, the Treasury said the health service will receive £136.1 billion in core funding, as well as £3 billion to help with the Covid recovery
The NHS’s waiting list for routine surgeries has surpassed 7 million for the first time. This includes nearly 390,000 patients who have had to wait more than a year for treatment
Rishi Sunak (left) told a cabinet meeting yesterday that while other departments can expect austerity measures, the government will ‘always support’ the NHS, which will ‘continue to be a priority’
WHAT DOES THE LATEST NHS PERFORMANCE DATA SHOW?
More than 7 million people in England were waiting for routine NHS surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, in August.
Leading experts fear the ‘grim milestone’ – the equivalent of one in eight people – will only be surpassed when the pressures of winter, Covid and flu hit.
The backlog has risen from 6.8 million a month earlier, marking the highest total since the NHS records began in 2007. Nearly 390,000 patients have been forced to wait a year for their treatment, often while in severe pain.
Separate analysis suggests the NHS is performing fewer surgeries and treatments than before the pandemic, despite pledges to downsize the ever-growing list.
Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, a former health minister, have warned that “tough decisions” lie ahead to tackle a £50 billion deficit in public finances.
In a fall statement on November 17, they will outline how government spending will be cut and what tax increases will be imposed on UK households.
But the Prime Minister told a cabinet meeting yesterday that while other departments may expect cuts, No10 will ‘always support’ the NHS and will ‘continue to be a priority’.
In return, the health service, whose budget is expected to reach £162bn by 2024, will reportedly be told to find “efficiencies and reforms” to prove it won’t waste any extra money, a ministry source said. of Finance. The Telegraph.
It comes as the NHS backlog in England stands at a record 7 million, the latest data for shows in August. It equates to one in eight people queuing for treatment, often with pain and a condition that can worsen over time.
The health service’s own modeling for the backlog, leaked in February, revealed it won’t stop growing until it reaches 10.7 million by early 2024.
However, cabinet ministers are said to be concerned that the queue for treatment in 2025, around the time of the next general election, could still grow.
The NHS recovery plan, elaborated in February by ex-Health Minister Sajid Javid, set out that the backlog would decrease by 2024, while the one-year waiting period would be abolished by 2025.
Amanda Pritchard, Director of NHS England, told executives last month that the NHS funding situation is a ‘f****** nightmare.
Health chiefs warned earlier this month that the NHS has a £7bn cash shortfall for the next financial year, which will hit £21bn by 2024.
Officials told an NHS meeting there was no room to cut costs without turning to core services such as cancer, mental health and primary care – which medics and campaigners warn are already short on cash.
But MPs and campaigners have suggested the NHS should see how it can raise money itself, rather than demand more money.
A freedom of information request by the Alliance of Taxpayers has today revealed that the NHS has millions of pounds worth of art that can be sold to raise money levels.
Ambulances took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds to respond to category two calls, such as burns, epilepsy and stroke. This is more than twice as long as the 18 minute goal
A&E wait times also broke a record, with the number of patients with a 12-hour wait exceeding 30,000
An analysis of NHS data shows the health service is performing fewer surgeries and treatments than the pre-pandemic average
While the NHS conducted a record number of cancer checkups, the health service still failed to meet targets to start treatment for the disease within two months of an urgent referral
The data showed that the NHS has 20,000 works of art, worth an estimated £12 million. NHS relies on Fife (2,044 pieces), the Isle of Wight (1992) and Cambridge (1,573) have the largest collections.
It is unclear which artwork is owned, but many pieces have been donated for the benefit of patients and thus cannot be sold.
Sir Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch in Dorset, told The Telegraph the NHS should ‘look where they can save’ rather than ‘look at their artwork’.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said “hospitals are turning into mini art galleries.”
Meanwhile, a ceiling on social care costs announced by Boris Johnson last September is expected to be postponed until after the next election as part of government spending cuts.
Because it was to come into effect in October, it would put a limit of £86,000 on the people who had to spend on social care before the local authorities took over their bill.
But it is now expected to be cut back by at least a year to save £1bn annually.
However, the NHS and social care will still receive a £13bn increase, which was to be funded by a National Insurance increase but is now expected to be supported by other taxes.
It comes as crippled health care performance has fallen to record lows in recent months.
NHS hospitals are currently clogged with healthy patients who cannot be discharged due to a lack of social care staff to take over their care. Three out of five patients are kept on the ward longer than necessary.
This so-called bed-block crisis is fueling the slow emergency department, with too few hospital beds available to accommodate patients arriving in the ER and 999 callers trapped in the back of ambulances.