‘Today’s announcement is a significant moment for the NHS – it should set the agenda for the next parliament in the same way that the commitment to find £20 billion in efficiency savings has set the tone for the past five years. It throws down the gauntlet to the political parties to back fundamental changes to health services that could significantly improve care for patients.
‘The report makes a compelling case for change and articulates a clear vision of the future, with services organised around the needs of patients rather than outdated professional boundaries. The focus on prevention is particularly welcome – for too long the NHS has remained a service that diagnoses and treats sickness, rather than one that predicts and prevents it. The emphasis on developing new models of care by scaling up primary care and developing community-based services will also be widely welcomed, although more detail is needed on how this will be taken forward.
‘But attention will rightly focus on the funding options. While it is right to emphasise a three-pronged approach that focuses on managing demand and improving productivity as well as the need for additional funding, there is no escaping the size of the financial challenge facing the NHS. Even if the very challenging estimates for productivity improvements outlined here can be achieved, an additional £8 billion a year in funding would be needed by 2020.
‘With the national leaders of the NHS speaking with one voice on this issue, politicians now need to explain whether and how they will find this money. With deficit reduction still a high priority, this will not be easy, but today’s report is a reminder of how important it is to ensure the NHS is adequately funded in the next parliament.’
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.