London hospitals at breaking point, NHS England warns

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Media captionNHS England wants more focus on prevention

London's hospitals are at "breaking point" and face a £4bn shortfall by 2020, NHS England has warned.

The organisation, which works to improve the NHS, says patient care will be harmed unless there is a "radical and urgent overhaul" of the service.

It said demands for healthcare will soon outstrip supply due to a rising and ageing population and increasing costs, making the NHS "unsustainable".

The Department of Health said the NHS should make £20bn of savings by 2015.

NHS England in London has outlined several factors which are putting pressure on the service in the capital. These include:

  • Life expectancy in London has risen by 5.2 years since 1990 - a year longer than the national average - but stark variations exist between boroughs
  • About 80% of premature deaths in London are attributable to lifestyle factors, such as alcohol, smoking, poor diet and a lack of exercise
  • More than 130,000 women give birth in London every year, and the birth rate is increasing by 3% a year.
  • The number of Londoners aged 65 and over is set to increase by 19%, based on the 2011 census.
  • 1 in 5 children in London are at risk of obesity
  • The rate of acute sexually transmitted diseases is higher in London than in any other region.

'Fundamentally change'

Dr Anne Rainsberry, regional director for NHS England, said: "Based on our expectations of patient demands and that we expect a period of flat financial growth, we are likely to have an affordability gap of £4bn in London by 2020.

"Investing more in hospitals is not the answer. We need to focus more on prevention and improve our primary and community care services to co-ordinate services closer to where patients live."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The NHS is already on track to make £20bn of efficiency savings by 2015 by making changes to the way it works — changes that will continue to deliver savings beyond 2015."

NHS England is asking for the public's views to help develop plans to meet the city's needs over the next decade.

You can leave your opinion on the myhealthlondon website.

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