LEX TALK: How should the NHS spend its birthday money?
With the NHS turning 70 in July, there has been much talk about whether this milestone birthday will be rewarded with a sufficient present. Simon Stevens has made several high-profile interventions calling for more money and the Prime Minister has now promised a long-term funding settlement for the NHS. This is certainly timely, as the IFS and Health Foundation have warned that an extra 4% a year – or £2,000 per household – for the next 15 years is required to avoid “a decade of misery”.
The Health Secretary and Chancellor are now at loggerheads around what the promised long-term settlement for the NHS should comprise, with Hunt calling for at least £5.2bn a year and Hammond seeking a more conservative £3.25bn. One thing is clear however, the political conversation has moved on from whether the NHS should receive extra money, to how much.
In recognition of this, Lexington Health has canvassed the opinions of the UK’s leading health experts, assessing where the NHS should prioritise spending this money and on what. This will form part of a weekly series, which we will be releasing in advance of the NHS’s 70th Birthday.
This week, we’ve spoken to John Appleby, Director of Research and Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust, and Mike Burrows, National Co-Ordination Director of the AHSN Network.
“After a decade of austerity, we have to recognise that more money for the NHS will not fix things overnight. A key constraint will be the need for more staff; it’s no good investing in more scanners or beds or drugs without the doctors, nurses and others to deliver the care. There are some things we could do straight away, like bringing back nursing bursaries for mature students and moving pharmacists and physiotherapists into positions of wider responsibility. But we also need a long-term training and retention plan to address the underlying shortage of qualified nurses and GPs.”
Director of Research and Chief Economist, The Nuffield Trust
Whilst it won’t solve all the NHS’ problems, more money is certainly welcome. My advice to the NHS would be to view new funds as an investment to build the foundations for future success, rather than as a stop-gap to plug current funding gaps. My priorities would be to:
1 – Sort out the labour supply side in key shortage areas, this will pay dividends in the longer term;
2 – Consider the preventative agenda, the Marmot Review is as fresh today as it was in 2010;
3 – Invest in innovation where there is good efficacy and effectiveness evidence.”
National Co-Ordination Director, AHSN Network