Does the government have adequate plans to deal with the financial pressures on the health service? CIPFA’s latest health briefing The Health of Health Finance [PDF] reviews the evidence by looking at recent financial results and forecasts and the pressures they indicate; making comparisons with trends in spending levels; and analysing the specific pressures likely in future years.
Current plans are based on the NHS’ Five Year Forward View’s assessment that £30bn of pressures are faced over the five years to 2021, and that £8bn of that will be offset by additional funding. CIPFA concludes that the key figures of £30bn pressures and £22bn savings are both optimistic, and – ahead of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review – makes recommendations for how the government can improve the realism of the plans, and what actions it should take to make any plan a more deliverable reality.
Those actions include continuing with the Better Care Fund; setting aside invest to save funding; and recognising the fundamental need to add further to the NHS budget, charge users more, or reduce services. It is vital that those matters are addressed in the right way as part of the realistic long term planning which should form the core of the government’s forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.