Leading health experts in NHS funding debate call

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Leading figures from the health world are calling for a national debate on how the NHS in England is funded.

In a letter to The Times, they say challenges from an ageing population mean the system is "creaking at the seams" and cannot continue as it is.

Signatories include the heads of the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Nursing.

The BBC's health editor says the group feels future options may include higher taxes or charges for some treatment.

Without action an extra £30bn will be needed by 2020 to fund the NHS at current levels, their letter adds.

They are asking for a cross-party, independent conversation on the way forward for the "scope, provision and funding of health and social care".

'Holistic agreement'

The nine signatories say that in 50 years' time, at least two-and-a-half times as many patients will suffer from multiple health problems.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said while their letter is suggesting that further action is needed to make the NHS more efficient, this will not be enough as financial pressures intensify.

"The group is calling for a national debate on what it says are the options - higher taxes, payments for some elements of health care or a review is what is available on the NHS," he added.

Their letter says: "The status quo is not an option. We are already seeing the signs of the system creaking at the seams."

Warning that "business as usual won't do", they assert there needs to be "an honest, open dialogue between politicians and citizens".

"We need a new settlement; a fundamental, holistic agreement with the country on what health and social care should be, how and where it is delivered to maximise the quality of care, and how it should be paid for."

This "national conversation" should start now and be completed by the end of 2015, the letter concludes.

Two signatories - Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, and Turning Point chief executive Lord Adebowale - are non-executive directors of NHS England.

It is also signed by: Sir John Oldham, who chaired the Independent Commission on Whole Person Care; Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society; Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing; Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs; Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians; Jean-Pierre van Besouw, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, and Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    The NHS is bled dry by private sector companies treating it like a cash cow, it is bruised and battered by successive Governments treating it like a political football and is tired and drained by a public expecting it to save them from decades of poor health choices.

    It is helped a lot of us out over the years, it is time we helped out one of the greatest things this country has ever done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Unfortunately history shows us that privatisation and free competition is the only way to improve efficiency and quality of service. Just look at mobile phones, every year phone companies are forced to improve product quality and lower prices. There's no reason why this can't also happen with healthcare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    If the government is to spend extra money on health (which I believe it should) then it should be done in the form of allowing people to write off some of the cost of private medical insurance against tax. That will make private healthcare affordable for more than just the 10% of people who use it at them moment, and will free up NHS resources for those who still wish to use it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    The NHS has more than enough money. It is just spent badly. Too many tiers and replicated management. Too many inappropriate services (cosmetic) offered. Too many people who do not qualify milking it. Too many contractors taking too much out.

    Remember it is not free to UK taxpayers - we fund it through tax and NI. No to charges.

    Spend our money wisely and we have a great NHS for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I work for the NHS and am disgusted with the amount of money wasted on 'preferred suppliers', which usually means adding an extra zero to the bill.

    For example: one small toilet being decorated with new toilet and sink - £13,500.

    Stop wasteful examples like this and there would be plenty of money.


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