Following reports that three health think tanks have asked the Prime Minister to commit to real-term funding increases for the NHS of 4% every year, the Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, Robert Colvile, has written to Conservative Members of Parliament to voice the think tank’s significant concern that the discussion around funding has barely touched on the urgent need to reform the NHS.
The letter draws attention to the recent CPS analysis, which shows that how we spend any additional funding is just as important as how much to raise, if not more so.
The analysis points out that if annual NHS productivity growth over the next 10 years were to run at the same level achieved in the best five years since 1995 (when current records began), it would mean a 73% increase in health service output. The improvement in efficiency delivered would be the equivalent of:
Yet if annual productivity growth over the next 10 years were to run at the same level achieved in the five worst years since 1995 (when current records began) this would mean an increase in output of just 20%. Compared with the high productivity scenario, this would mean the equivalent of 159,000 fewer nurses, four million fewer cancer treatments and 58,000 fewer hip operations.
The analysis also shows that if NHS spending rises at 3%, and growth continues on its current trajectory, the NHS will - by 2028/29 - cost every individual taxpayer an extra £883.77 a year. The letter therefore highlights the importance of focusing on economic growth as the only sustainable way to pay for the NHS, rather than imposing ever greater taxes on ordinary working people.
Robert Colvile, Director, Centre for Policy Studies said:
“We all know that an ageing population will put ever greater pressures on the NHS. But the narrow focus of this debate on the level of funding is extremely worrying. Our research shows that rising funding for the NHS is correlated with falling productivity – in other words, unless we think carefully about how best to spend it, much of this new funding may be unnecessarily wasted.
“That’s why we are calling on the Government to introduce a cross-party Royal Commission, to create a consensus for the kind of reforms that can raise NHS productivity and give us all a health service fit for the 21st century.
“Similarly, while the NHS does need more money, any settlement will be unaffordable in the long term if we do not focus on economic growth – rather than increasing the burden on already hard-pressed taxpayers.”
For further information, or to book Centre for Policy Studies spokesmen, please contact the Centre for Policy Studies Press Office on 07741 642251 or email [email protected]
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Centre for Policy Studies is one of Britain's leading think tanks, and the home of a new generation of conservative thinking. Our mission is to widen enterprise, ownership and prosperity.
The Centre for Policy Studies analysis of the ONS data can be accessed here.