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The NHS is facing a £21bn funding gap – what does that look like in your area?

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In their manifesto for the 2017 general election, the Conservatives committed to increasing NHS spending by a minimum of eight billion pounds, in real terms, over the next five years.

Sounds like good news?

Well, analysis by the Health Foundation compares government spending plans set out in the manifesto with spending pressures of four per cent per year estimated by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

They found that by the end of this parliament the NHS will be £21bn short.

To plug the funding gap, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see service rationing, cuts and reconfigurations driven by financial imperatives rather than clinical need and increasing reliance on over-stretched staff making up for shortages.

All of this is putting huge pressure on performance.

A summary of the latest NHS indicators has just been published and it doesn’t look good:

  • In 2016/17, 10.9 per cent of patients spent over four hours in A&E compared with 8.1 per cent a year earlier. NHS England’s target is that 95 per cent of attendances should last under four hours.
  • The waiting list for consultant-led treatment has risen to 3.85 million people – 25 per cent higher than it was three years ago. Between June 2012 and June 2016, the waiting list grew 33 per cent faster than population increases. The 18-week waiting time target has not been met since early 2016.
  • In July 2017, 81.4 per cent of patients were treated within 62 days of urgent GP referral. The target of 85 per cent has been missed for all but one month in the past three years.
  • Ambulance response times to life-threatening calls have risen by an estimated 22.5 per cent over the past three years, and ambulance waiting time targets have not been met since 2015.

The Care Quality Commission has also released its report on the state of care in England, noting that health and care services are at full stretch and that the ability to meet demand for hospital care is under severe pressure.

"While demand for hospital care has been rising so strongly, the number of hospital beds has been gradually reducing. From the last quarter of 2010/11 to the last quarter of 2016/17, decisions to admit rose by sixteen per cent while available beds fell by eight per cent."

And as for staff, the Care Quality Commission report that “the combination of greater demand and unfilled vacancies means that staff are working ever harder to deliver the quality of care that people have a right to expect. However, there is a limit to their resilience.”

Underfunding is causing the NHS to scale back what it delivers. This is just not acceptable. And it is not safe either, for patients and for staff.

Click here to check what the NHS funding in your area looks like and ask your MP to tell the Chancellor to fully fund our National Health Service in this Autumn budget.