NHS is “heading for a funding crisis”

The Nuffield Trust warns the NHS is “heading for a funding crisis”, suggesting patients could be charged for health care service within a decade.

Independent health charity the Nuffield Trust has warned in a recent report that the NHS is “heading for a funding crisis” as NHS trusts continue to struggle to maintain services and manage their finances.

The report, entitled In the Red, suggested that despite having “risen to the challenge of living within its means in the last three years”, the NHS has now reached a “tipping point” as too many trusts record a deficit.

Andy McKeon, senior policy fellow at the Nuffield Trust, warned the NHS was “poorly placed” to cope with the further financial challenges ahead as demand for services continues to rise. McKeon said the health service was “heading for a funding crisis this year or next”.  

The report also recorded the results of a survey conducted on over 100 health and social care leaders, with two-thirds of those spoken suggesting trusts would have to go into deficit to maintain quality services.

Half of those surveyed said they believed the NHS would no longer be free at the point of use in ten years time.

In response to the report, health minister Lord Howe said the predictions were “pessimistic and paint an unrealistic picture of how our NHS is working.”

“We know some parts of the NHS are under pressure due to an unprecedented rise in demand – which is why in very tight economic circumstances, we have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget by £12.7bn over this Parliament,” he said.

Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, took a more disparaging stance: “Everywhere you look there are signs of an NHS now heading rapidly in the wrong direction.”

“It is not just standards of patient care that are getting worse but NHS finances are in a dire state.”