Prime minister Cameron has broken the coalition’s pledge to increase funding for the NHS, both Labour and the Institute of Fiscal Studies have warned.
Labour’s shadow health secretary John Healey said yesterday that if the ‘double counting’ of social care budgets as NHS spending was taken into account, the NHS in England was, in fact, facing a cut of £1.8 billion, a 1.8 per cent real terms reduction.
He added: ‘Real terms spending will fall next year and again the year after, and this will in fact be the first time since records began that the NHS in England has seen a real terms fall in spending for two years running.
‘If you add in his trick of double counting social care budgets, David Cameron is cutting the NHS by a massive £1.8bn.’
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said on Friday that the government was now ‘sailing extremely close to the wind’ over its promise, made at the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review, to raise NHS spending in real terms every year of the current parliament.
In the IFS response to the Budget, analyst Gemma Tetlow said that at the time the government had been on course to deliver a 0.3 per cent real-terms increase in NHS spending over the life of the parliament, but the latest Office for Budget Responsibility inflation figures now pointed to a 0.9 per cent cut.
The IFS said there is now a 30 per cent chance that chancellor Osborne would have to put up taxes or find further spending cuts if he is to meet his deficit reduction plans.
Meanwhile, two Southport hospital doctors have warned of the devastating impact government health reforms and cuts will have on the NHS.
A&E doctor Dr Anthony Molyneux feared the reforms being put forward by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley would be ‘the end of the NHS’ as we know it.
He said: ‘I think you have to look at a national and historical context.
‘I don’t think the public should be in any doubt that what is being done now is the coup de grace for finishing the NHS.’
Dr Molyneux warned the reforms and cuts facing hospital trusts are the ‘final push’ to open up the NHS to big business and the market which he believes will badly impact on patient care.
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust is facing a £30m cut over four years and the loss of three wards and 86 beds.
Dr Molyneux’s colleague Dr Liz Ford, said government plans seemed ‘designed to make trusts fail’ and would impact negatively on patient care.
In Shropshire, campaigners have vowed to continue fighting plans to switch maternity and children’s services from Shrewsbury to Telford.
Both Shropshire County Primary Care Trust and NHS Telford and Wrekin support the proposals.
More than 33,000 people from across Shropshire and mid Wales have signed a cross-border petition calling for women and children’s services to remain at Shrewsbury, amid fears that the extra travel times to Telford will put mothers and babies in emergency situations at even greater risk.
• The King’s Fund has called for entire care pathways to be outsourced to private firms.
Senior fellow at the think tank, Dr Nick Goodwin told a meeting of key NHS figures on the Health and Social Care Bill in Westminster that if busy GPs attempted to re-design pathways, the job could account for ‘five per cent of the budget and 50 per cent of the time’.
‘They will have to devolve responsibility to groups at a more regional level and they may well be external groups including private companies,’ he added.
He said: ‘GPs can set the standards but consortia will ultimately want to commission organisations to take on the risk.’