The NHS Confederation working with the Health Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has published a ground-breaking major report “Securing The Future: Funding health and social care to the 2030s.”  The importance of this study is evident from the follow up which is a Parliamentary briefing on June 6 at the House of Commons hosted by Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Select Committee, in the House of Commons.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, says: “This report is a wake-up call. And its message is simple – if we want good, effective, and safe services, we will have to find the resources to pay for them.

“The scale of what we face is not widely understood. Over the next 15 years in the UK, there will be 4 million more people over 65 and the prospect of a 40 per cent increase in hospital admissions and further large increases in the number of people with numerous long-term conditions.

“It is now undeniable that the current system and funding levels are unsustainable. Without new ways of delivering services and sustained investment, NHS and care services will not cope, and we will face a decade of misery in which the old, sick, and the vulnerable will be let down.”

Responding to a question from ACJ and Hospital Times, Dickson agreed that increased funding alone will not necessarily deliver the solution. It will be essential to improve service delivery so best practice is shared throughout the NHS and communication with patients is improved with a greater emphasis on use of artificial intelligence and wearable devices.

Time for honesty and a public debate

Dickson argues that even with modest real term increases every year “we could be doing little more than managing decline. Such is the challenge of an ageing population with more people living with chronic conditions.” His view is that now is a time for honesty and a wider public debate about what sort of services are required and how much they will cost.

He adds: “The Prime Minister and Health Secretary deserve great credit for recognising that we need a significant and a longer-term settlement and that both health and social care need to be tackled. The report suggests that this can be paid for through additional taxation. But we hope the Government will not rush into decisions or promises without consulting those who work in and use these services.

“The danger is that quick centrally-imposed solutions will fail to address the enormity of the challenge and the need to secure widespread support. Instead we need to develop a new compact or agreement between government, the NHS, and its staff, and the public.

“It should be agreed following a national conversation with a clear investment and workforce strategy alongside commitments from the NHS and care services about what will be delivered in return.

“There is a growing realisation across the political parties that something needs to be done. This should not be a counsel of despair – we have perhaps the fairest healthcare system in the world, a world beating life sciences industry and a public that says it is prepared to pay more in taxes in return for better services. It is the major social issue that confronts us, but it is solvable.”

The NHS Confederation represents 85 per cent of NHS providers and commissioners. The organisation has nearly 500 members across health and social care, including hospitals, community and mental health providers, ambulance trusts and independent sector organisations providing NHS care. It is the only membership body to bring together and speak on behalf of the whole NHS.

For a copy of the full report contact Bonnie Brimstone at the IFS bonnie_b@ifs.org.uk/ 07730 667 013.