The King's Fund today warned Health Secretary John Reid not to paint too rosy a picture on his announcement that primary care trusts in England are set to receive historic levels of funding for the next two financial years.
The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:
'We welcome the news that more money will be allocated to the NHS frontline, particularly for the primary care trusts that cover the most deprived areas. These allocations certainly look generous, but we should not be fooled into thinking that everything is rosy in the garden.
'Much of this new investment will be eaten up by the NHS' big three pay deals for staff - Agenda for Change, the General Medical Services (GMS) contract and the consultant contract - as well as paying for extra pension costs, rising demand for health services and health inflation. There is therefore a real danger that government rhetoric will run ahead of what the NHS is able to deliver. What's clear is that the NHS' flexibility to meet government targets and priorities will be reduced by all of these various financial demands, which are likely to contribute to widespread deficits.
'New reforms, such as the payment by results system for paying hospitals, will change the overall financial landscape of the NHS, making it a potentially more volatile place. Given all this, primary care trusts will be left with limited resources to take on the crucial agenda of improving public health and ensuring better patient access to services, as well as making progress in tackling the big killer diseases.'
Notes to editors:
1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
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