The only solution to the NHS funding crisis is to reduce the amount of beds and hospital-based jobs, says NHS Confederation head Mike Farrar.
The NHS Confed Chief Executive said in an article with the Guardian that shifting healthcare services into the community and centralising surgery provision is the only way to avoid wholesale loss of NHS service provision.
Mr Farrar says that “radically re-orienting services to reduce hospital stays and offering new forms of care” will help the NHS improve and keep it financially stable.
He noted that the Government’s £20 billion efficiency savings target by 2015 was already increasing NHS waiting times and raising the threat of the health service cutting services to “salami slice its way out of financial trouble”.
Farrar also said that there was a danger of the NHS reducing access to “less effective treatments”, though in fact this is already taking place in most Trusts.
To avoid financial disaster on the one hand or disastrous loss of services on the other, he argued, the only way forward is to shift the focus of services into the community – and immediately utilise the benefits of service redesign by closing down much of the existing in-patient hospital provision.
Surgery can be relocated to major centres and out-patient services to primary and home-based care, he said, with hospitals ceasing to be the main providers of secondary care.
His stark message is that without this reconfiguration of services – which will only be possible if funding is made available for service redesign – healthcare in the UK “faces a bleak future”.