Launching its proposals for political parties ahead of the 8 June election, the NHS Confederation has called on political leaders to pledge to spend at least a fixed % of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) linking health spending to the success of the economy.
The Confederation also wants the next government to set up an Office of Budgetary Responsibility for Health and Care to provide independent advice on what level of funding is needed, and a £2 billion a year transformation fund to start meeting the immediate needs of the service now.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said:
‘It is time for society as a whole to face up to the health and care challenge and to bring evidence and some certainty to what is one of the greatest challenges facing this country. This election is understandably going to be dominated by Brexit, but unless we act soon we will face another daunting issue – a health and care system that is simply incapable of meeting modern needs. Already one in eight elderly people in England are being denied the social care support they need and the number of over-85s in the UK, who are the greatest users of health and care, is set to double over the next 20 years.’
The Confederation has welcomed the Government’s recent pledge for extra social care funding and the Prime Minister’s commitment to produce a long term answer for social care. But it argues that there is a need to establish some hard measures and to bring some independent analysis to both health and care funding. That means setting up an OBR for Health and Care which could assess current and future need and estimate what funding is required to meet it. It would also report on whether the system is using those resources wisely.
Mr Dickson added: ‘We also believe the next government should commit to a funding level for health and care that is linked to our GDP, as with defence and international development spending. As the economy grows, so should health and care spending. This would establish more certainty around future investment and greater clarity on the collective view of what resources are needed to deliver safe and effective services.
‘We currently spend 10% of GDP on health and care funding, which is significantly less than the comparable economies of France and Germany.’
The NHS Confederation is also calling for the Department of Health to be replaced by the Department of Health and Care to enable better co-operation between the two sectors.
It accepts that money alone is not enough – better care will only come if the way services are run undergoes radical change. Funding for this transformation has been promised in the last two years, yet much of this has ended up being spent on filling budget gaps. Real transformation needs a dedicated one-off fund of at least £2 billion a year for the next two years.’