24 Nov 2015

NHS: extra money ‘not enough’ to meet government’s ambitions

There was a general sigh of relief across the NHS this morning with the announcement that there is to be an extra £3.8bn for 2016/17. It was, by all accounts, a battle hard fought, with the Treasury having to be persuaded that the £8bn extra by 2020, promised in the Conservative Party manifesto, needed to be front-loaded.


Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, had led the charge, both publicly and privately for the money – or at least some of it – upfront. That the Treasury was finally persuaded was broadly welcomed. But the welcome was probably more muted than he would have liked.

Because few believe that the extra money will do much more than pay off the ever increasing deficits (projected to be £2.2bn by the end of this financial year), and meet increased pension demands.

What most analysts are saying today is this goes nowhere towards getting some stability into the health service. It will not be enough to meet the government’s ambitions, for instance, of a seven day a week NHS and more GPs working seven days.

This rise is also specifically for frontline services and not for other parts of the NHS. So tomorrow there are concerns that there will be an announcement in the spending review of cuts to the public health budget and to staff training budgets.

There has been a suggestion that local authorities will be able to increase council tax by 2 per cent and that this would be ring-fenced for social care. But nobody is clear yet what will happen to local authority budgets overall. So it could end up with robbing Peter to pay Paul and the NHS will end up with extra work as a result.

The same goes for cuts to public health budgets. All of which can see extra patients coming through he doors of a hospital because their health has otherwise suffered.

The Department of Health is clear, too, that the money to cope with this winter’s pressure has already been allocated. It says the moves to cap agency spend will help with over spends.

But we have been in Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for the past two days and they are already feeling the effects of winter. Even before midday today, there were 8-10 trollies with patients lined up in the emergency department.

Most of the hospital’s beds were full and all the cubicles were being used. The staff were coping admirably, although they never stopped. And the worst of winter is still to come.

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4 reader comments

  1. Heather Barham says:

    My mum is in QMC having undergone brain surgery last week for a malignant tumour.

    The extent of the NHS cuts are evident daily. Today despite asking three times her blood matted dressing has not been changed. She has not been seen by a doctor today. The nurses spend a disproportionate amount of time on handovers and note recording and in my opinion not enough on nursing their patients.

    Devastating news about her prognosis was only broken to us last week after having to ask to see a doctor.

    Public toilets in the hospital are filthy, with sanitary waste bins overflowing. We are greeted daily by corridors with discarded items from wards bring left for days to be disposed of. However statistics adorn walls on posters telling us how well Carillion are doing with their public sector contract management. I see little evidence of this in practice in the hospital.

    My mum was previously in Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield. Despite this Trust being in special measures we were impressed with the hands on care by the nursing staff and pro active communication by doctors.

    When facing uncertain and upsetting times when a member of your family is gravely ill this is what is needed. Sadly from our experience at QMC thus far (11 days in, only 2 consultations with the family present) this is far from being delivered.

    1. John says:

      Perhaps instead of trying to take hospital managers to task. someone should call at the police Station or the Public Health office?
      NHS was born in 1940s, when GB was bankrupt. but back then Matrons ran hospitals and GPs could bring a hospital to task and get redress for his patient.
      If a hospital ward was so unfit for purpose as nurses chatting amongst themseves and leaving patients to fend for themselves, maybe we should sack the nurses, sack the Sisters and Sack the Hospital manager.
      After all that is what a Private Enterprise would do if staff did not perform.
      Dom`t just sit dumbly silent, RAISE THE ROOF! COMPLAIN! ACCEPT NO FOBBING OFF! If hospitals as bad as that, shutting it would be a service to the public!
      Too much obsequience to stupid timewasting incompetents in GB. TRY getting a Solicitor . He will know what laws have been broken and what financial compensation there is for this terrible State Ignorance of Service.
      After all buy something from a shop and you have the Trades Descriptions Act. What has a patient got to stop blatant breaches of Human Rights in OUR hospitals??

    2. Andrew Dundas says:

      Our true sympathies, Heather, are with you and you and your mum.

      Up here in Scotland our NHS gets nearly 17% more funding per person than in England. But our NHS is also creaking under the strain.
      Perhaps both our policy leaderships are unable to cope?

  2. David A Henderson says:

    I have come across a new form of maths, Osbourne Arithmetic when things don’t add up £22billion in savings yet more money for the NHS? I think his school report must of stated “Must try harder” not firm grasp as I got. The man just can’t count for toffee.

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