ARTICLES


  • NHS

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    29 June 2018

    The government has just announced a huge increase in funding for the NHS. That the NHS should be close to a national religion should not come as any surprise. Its core principle that care should be provided based on need rather than ability to pay is surely a hallmark of a civilised society. All of us use the NHS and benefit from it – sometimes with lives transformed and saved. But as the employer of 1.6 million people and consuming a third of public services expenditure this is an institution that lies at the heart of the nation’s finances as well as its affections. The additional real funding of £20 billion per year by 2023/24 will drive down wait times, ensure that A&E operates with greater capacity as well as providing more health professionals where they are needed, more drugs and medical procedures. But allied to the money must come increased efficiency – the NHS needs to increase its productivity if it is to cope with our ageing population, the ever greater cost and sophistication of new drugs and treatments, the ever greater expectations we have of it – for example procedures such as hip replacements that not that long ago would have been considered fanciful yet are now commonplace. So along with the cash comes a requirement for the NHS to provide a 10 year plan showing how productivity can be driven up, waste reduced, interregional differences in outcomes ironed out. All of this extra funding has of course to be paid for and over the coming months we will be working through the funding options – the amount that will be provided as between tax, spending restraints elsewhere and borrowing. Our fiscal rules will continue to be met and with much of government expenditure in protected areas it inevitably follows that there will be tax rises to pay for the NHS funding uplift. This means that we will ultimately find out if the public means what it says (according to the polling) when it states that it would be prepared to pay more tax to support the NHS. Or might there be a critical difference between the idea of it and the reality of it – when the taxman actually comes to call and asks for a little more might people’s view change when they have to dig into their pockets? This increase in health spending is of a size that no figure can properly convey – it is way in excess of Labour’s proposals – in a sense the Conservatives have outflanked them from the political left. A bold move – a big shot in the arm for the NHS years ahead of the next General Election – this is no last minute pre-election bung but a considered long term approach. And it matters that this bold move succeeds not just for the future fortunes of the government but for the health of us all. More from Mel on Twitter @MelJStride and online at www.melstridemp.com.







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