“Today’s NAO reports on NHS finances paint a stark picture. The NHS is at risk of being unable to make best use of the additional funding from the long-term settlement and to address the decaying NHS estate effectively.
“Despite the fact that parts of the NHS estate are crying out for investment, there continue to be underspends in overall capital budgets. The continued reliance on short-term fixes, in particular the transfer of revenue to capital, must cease. It is startling to learn that despite 5 years of these transfers, the DHSC remains unable to provide any information on the wider potential impact of this short-term fix.
“The NAO also shows that the recent awards of additional capital bear little relation to those areas in most need of backlog maintenance. The government has now long recognised the need to reform the capital system, yet this, along with a long term capital strategy supported by multi-year allocations, has been repeatedly delayed.
“Although there have been some positive signals from government recently, today's twin reports make it clear that these are not enough to ensure the ambitions of the long term plan are met or to ensure that the funding settlement can be used to best effect. The question remains of whether the overall NHS financial architecture is fit for purpose.”
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