“NHS cannot continue ‘in red zone’, providers’ leader warns”

“Hospitals in England are spending £900 less per person than Germany, an expert has warned.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, a trade association that represents acute, ambulance, community and mental health services, said the argument for additional funding for the health service was clear as he warned that it could not continue to operate in the “red zone”.

He said UK health spending needed to be about 13% higher to match German or French levels.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK spent £2,777 per person on healthcare in 2014.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham, Hopson described the effects of the NHS being in the middle of the “longest and deepest” financial squeeze in its history.

He pointed out that last year, the NHS in England had missed all four major targets – the four-hour A&E standard, the 18-week elective surgery waiting time standard, the expectation that cancer patients would begin treatment within 62 days and the ambulance response time target.

Hopson added that the NHS could no longer meet performance standards on current funding levels. He also warned that the health service was “slipping back” on improvements made throughout the 2000s.

“The simple point is that if we want the best care, we have to pay for it. UK health spending would need to be around £24bn, or 13% higher, to match current German or French levels of health spending,” Hopson said.

“If we wanted to spend as much per head of population as the French do, we’d need to be spending £300 a year more per person. To match the Germans, we’d need to be spending £900 a year more per person. Sobering figures which show that, in the end, as my Dad used to say, you get what you pay for.”

Hopson added: “We are now trying to run the NHS above its sustainable limits, well into the red zone … and [there is] a growing, tangible frustration that the hard-fought gains of the 2000s across a range of measures – for example, waiting times and single-sex wards – are starting to slip back at increasing pace.”

He said the NHS budget and staff numbers were growing, but they were not keeping up with demand and to meet performance standards.”