NHS won’t be free in 10 years

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Funding crisis could lead to no more free services

A Nuffield Trust survey has revealed that NHS funding issues could lead to patients being charged for treatment within the next 10 years.

Half of the 78 trusts reported the status quo couldn’t possibly remain with the current financial pressures, with Labour labelling NHS budgets as in a “dire state”. The think tank warned the NHS could suffer “a funding crisis this year or next”, believing that a further £2 billion a year may be needed to keep up with growing demands.

The spending review also brought into relief the growing number of trusts since 2010 that have fell into deficit, with provisional figures for 2013/14 showing 66 of 249 trusts finishing the year in the red. The overall deficit totals £100 million.

Impact on services

The report also warms that monetary difficulties could lead to rising waiting times, further impacting patient experiences. Report author Andy McKeon told BBC News “The NHS has risen to the challenge of living within its means over the past three years. But it has now reached a tipping point. The NHS is heading for a funding crisis this year or next.”

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents NHS trusts, said “Staff have worked incredibly hard over the last four years to deliver unprecedented savings while public finances have been constrained, but the challenge is getting much more difficult.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said “Everywhere you look, there are signs of an NHS now heading rapidly in the wrong direction. It is not just standards of patient care that are getting worse but NHS finances are in a dire state.”