Responding to the findings of the NAO report on NHS sustainability, Dr Eleanor Roy, CIPFA Policy Manager Health and Social Care, said:
“Today’s report from the NAO confirms the concerns we have expressed regarding the long term sustainability of the NHS finances, along with the now urgent need for a solution to the social care funding issue, and for a long-term view across both health and social care.
“It is clear the ‘missing jigsaw piece’ from the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) is a long-term funding settlement for social care. Without this, and with continuing pressures on both health and social care in terms of workforce issues and increasing demand, the assumption in the LTP that social care will not place any additional pressures on the NHS seems unrealistic.
“However solutions do not seem forthcoming, as the long-overdue Green Paper for adult social care, even when presented, is only a Green Paper – by the time any solution to the funding question emerges and can be implemented, we may be out the other end of a five-year funding settlement for the NHS.
“As this report shows, for the last few years financial balance in the NHS has been achieved only by surpluses in some areas of the sector offsetting substantial deficits in other areas. Even within this approach, there has remained a reliance on short-term measures such as funding boosts, transformation funding and drawing on reserves. Clearly this is unsustainable going forward.
“While the LTP proposes to improve the financial position of the NHS, and the latest guidance for the provider sector is more positive, with lower efficiency requirements and the removal of asset sales as a means to meet control totals, without a more detailed approach on how to address underlying financial health issues, this seems a tall order.
“With CIPFA’s views further reinforced by today’s NAO report, we believe a more holistic approach to the long-term financial sustainability for both the health and social care sectors is now a matter of urgency if the NHS is to achieve the ambitions which have been laid out in the LTP.”
For further information please contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5703 or E: Liam.Macandrew@cipfa.org
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.