As the second wave approaches, on the cusp of the winter flu season NHS leaders have truly daunting challenges and now question their ability to sustain services in the face of escalating costs that the government have so far not committed to meet.
The latest call for extra funds came from Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers that represents NHS hospitals saying that current funding is “not enough to do the job” and that a new plan is needed to help meet day-to-day running costs, for buildings and equipment and for staff training.
Delays to the budget and the government’s spending review mean the pivotal NHS workforce strategy remains largely unfunded.
The Government points to an extra £31.9bn in resources that have been funnelled towards the NHS. But Covid costs are huge. Test and trace will cost £10bn and the bill for PPE is an eye watering £15bn. And the cost of the vaccine, when it arrives, has not been factored into the current budget.
Health planners are worried about the rising health demands from Covid: The impact upon mental health, the cost of dealing with record NHS waiting lists and the new patients suffering long term Covid issues.
Health economists argue that major cost items like PPE, test and trace and the cost of staffing through Covid have already drained the coffiers. Much of this is being spent with outside providers and suppliers, not invested in extra long term capacity.
Before Covid the NHS had a shortage of 100,000 staff and a £6.5bn backlog in building maintenance that had accrued due to the biggest squeeze on NHS finances in its history.
The recent Conservative conference slogan to now Build Back Better and make good on the promises of 40 new hospitals has faltered under an NHS Provider’s analysis, as it emerged the government has only committed £3.7bn towards a building project that would normally cost £20bn.
Source: Nuffield Trust
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