FIGURES provided by the IFS economic forecaster show that NHS spending is growing at the slowest rate since records began in 1955.
NHS spending now stands at an annual growth rate of 1.1%. The IFS maintains that the funding crisis being imposed by the Tories on the NHS means that it is in a permanent crisis, and that many thousands of patients are at risk in this government war against the NHS.
Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth commented: ‘The experts at the IFS confirm what we’ve been warning now for some time. The NHS is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history. Every day we see an NHS pushed to the brink because of Tory underfunding. These are some of the worst figures we have seen. Experts are saying health standards are being pushed back 15 years or more.’
British Medical Association chair Dr Mark Porter added: ‘The Prime Minister cannot continue to bury her head in the sand as care worsens.’
The IFS report said: ‘The period between 2009/10 and 2014/15 saw historically slow increases in public spending on health, averaging 1.1% a year. This was the lowest five-year growth rate since a consistent time series of health spending began in 1955/56.’
This rate of growth is even smaller than the last Tory government between 1979 and 1997 under Margaret Thatcher and John Major – when the rate averaged 3.4%. The UK spends less on health than other EU countries. In 2014, the latest figures which are available, total health spending accounted for 9.9% of GDP. But the average in Europe was 10.3%, according to the Nuffield Trust. Germany spent 11% of GDP on health and France 11.1%.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday conceded the NHS in England is facing ‘completely unacceptable’ problems. He said there was ‘no excuse’ but that the government had a plan to help hospitals cope. Hunt told the BBC that the the key to the situation was to carry on starving the NHS and to treat more people ‘at home and in the community’ to ease the burden on hard-pressed hospitals.
Sir Robert Francis QC has warned that financial and demand pressures on the NHS have created an environment in which a care scandal equal to that at Mid Staffordshire is ‘inevitable’. In an in-depth interview to mark the fourth anniversary of the publication of his landmark report, Francis said the NHS was facing an ‘existential crisis’, and was ‘manifestly failing’ to keep pace with demand.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, commenting on Hunt’s ‘completely unacceptable’ statement said: ‘These are hollow words from the Secretary of State. On his watch, the NHS is suffering from the biggest financial squeeze in history and social care is at tipping point.
‘Government advisor Lord Carter has extraordinarily called NHS conditions “warlike” and now Sir Robert Francis says there is an ‘existential crisis’ for the health service warning that another Mid Staffs is “inevitable”. ‘By making such stark warnings Sir Robert Francis blows apart Jeremy Hunt’s rhetoric on putting patient safety first.’