Thursday, 1 June 2017

Patients face rationing on NHS unless more cash is pumped in, says think-tank

Patients face rationing of NHS care unless the next Government commits significantly more funding to the service, a leading health think-tank has told Sky News.
The King's Fund says that after the deepest funding squeeze in health service history the NHS is "approaching a crisis" that will see patients suffer.

The warning comes as new research reveals 50% of NHS areas will have to delay or cancel spending to meet financial targets, and four in 10 are already planning to reduce the amount of treatment they carry out, including elective procedures such as hip replacements.

Meanwhile, health spokesmen for all three main parties have set out their priorities in a Sky News special report on the state of the NHS, the public service that voters consistently say they value above all others.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the Government's record but said a promise of more funding depended on Britain achieving a positive Brexit deal.

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund, told Sky News: "The NHS is approaching a crisis.

Hospitals have been under huge pressure this winter, social care is already in crisis because of rising demand and constrained resources, and increasingly we are seeing rationing of health care.

"If there is no more money after the election we will see more rationing, patients will suffer, staff will feel under even greater pressure and quality of care will undoubtedly be affected."

His bleak assessment was backed up by a new survey of finance directors at clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the local bodies that commission healthcare from hospitals, GPs and other providers.

It found 40% of CCGs are reviewing or reducing the level of treatment they commission after NHS England effectively downgraded the target for elective treatment. Earlier this year NHS England conceded that waiting lists for such treatments are likely to grow as the service prioritises A&E, cancer, stroke and mental health services.

The NHS has just endured its worst ever winter performance, which saw 2.5m people wait for more than four hours in A&E, and a 25% increase in "bed blocking" - patients clinically ready to be discharged but delayed in hospital because they did not have care in place at home.

SKY     News.