“… And what about the money?
The frightening thing for ministers – and in particular the Treasury – is just how much cash the NHS is swallowing. Over £130bn is spent on the health service across the UK. In England, the budget was increased by 4% in real terms this year.
But still it hasn’t got enough. Hospitals continue to rack up deficits. And while the NHS will undoubtedly still manage to balance its books by year end in March because of surpluses elsewhere, the prospects for the next financial year are much gloomier.
The 2017-18 year will see a much smaller rise in the budget – under 1% once inflation is taken into account.
That – to borrow a phrase from former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson – really will be squeaky bum time. Yes you can always argue the Treasury will step in and provide more funds, but no area of government spending has had as generous a settlement as the NHS. Tough questions will be asked and cuts will undoubtedly have to follow.
Where is the axe falling?
Talking of cuts, isn’t there a whole host in the pipeline? Yes. In the coming months expect to hear plenty about the catchily named sustainability and transformation plans.
There are 44 of them covering the whole of England and some are pretty radical – involving closures of A&E and maternity units and, in some cases, whole hospitals. Consultations are likely to be getting under way over the next few months and these are bound to provoke local protests. …”