THE NHS crisis is so severe that the cash intended for investment to improve the service is instead being used meet the cost of the current problems.
An damning National Audit Office (NAO) report published today finds that £1.8 billion intended to help the NHS prepare for “significantly less funding” from 2017-18 onwards and “give it stability to improve performance and transform services, to achieve a sustainable health system” was being used instead to keep services ticking over.
It also found that £2.7bn of extra money was not genuine funding but loans from the Department of Health, which is charging the NHS interest, causing even more financial problems.
In a further indictment, the spending watchdog revealed that the involvement of private firms in the NHS wasn’t working, stating that use of the private sector “results in additional costs compared with publicly financed procurement.”
Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public said the report’s contents confirmed the government’s real intention “to undermine the NHS through deliberate underfunding and privatisation.”
But the NAO report said: “The NHS is struggling to manage increased activity and demand within its budget and has not met NHS access targets.
“Furthermore, measures it took to rebalance its finances have restricted money available for longer-term transformation, which is essential for the NHS to meet demand, drive efficiencies and improve the service.”
The NAO said additional grants of £2.4bn were in fact loans to NHS trusts, “which have worsened rather than improved their financial performance.”
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Tony O’Sullivan said: “We know that the government is directing NHS funds into private contracts and extorting interest payments from trusts which are already underfunded.
“Private companies benefiting from government policy are also the ones donating to the Conservative Party.
“The problem for campaigners is confronting the absolute lies of the government, here exposed by the NAO.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The NAO’s report confirms the government’s flawed and wholly inadequate approach to the sustainable, long-term funding of the NHS.
“Ministers have failed to increase per-head spending in real terms each year, a key election promise, and there are still no details of a long overdue pay rise for NHS staff.
“Our NHS is in crisis. Years of underinvestment culminated in December 2017 being the worst month on record for A&E performance and elective operations being cancelled until the end of January.
“Targets are being missed and in-year cash injections are not improving the financial performances of trusts.
“Unlike the Tories, Labour outlined a costed long-term plan for funding the NHS. Labour will give our NHS an extra £6bn a year to ensure that our NHS remains a world-class service for all.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The NHS is stretched beyond belief because of its lack of resources. The Prime Minister told Parliament: ‘We are better prepared than ever for the winter crisis.’
“Two weeks later … we see the reality of it, which is patients being treated in hospital car parks and ambulances.”
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