Health services will need to change radically to secure the future of the NHS, the health sector regulator has warned today.
These changes will be needed if the health sector is to close a £30 billion funding gap while providing good quality services to patients that are free at the point of use and fit for the needs of patients in the 21st century.
This funding gap – identified as being around £30 billion by 2021 in a report released by Monitor today – will be the greatest financial challenge the NHS has faced in recent years. It will require difficult decisions to be made. The NHS will have to achieve ‘more for less’ at a higher rate than it ever has before. One ‘huge heave’ will not be enough, and the NHS will have to ensure that improvements in productivity do not lag behind the rest of the economy.
NHS England has called for an “honest and realistic debate” on the challenge that the NHS faces. Monitor, as the sector regulator, is kicking the debate off with a report outlining the opportunities which are available to deliver better care and close the financial gap. These include:
- improving productivity in existing services
- delivering the right care in the right settings, including increasing care in the community
- developing innovative ways of delivering care
- making ‘one-off’ reductions in capital expenditure and staffing costs
- changing the way health spending is allocated which is currently based on historic demand
These opportunities won’t be easily achieved, but have the potential to close the financial gap and improve the way services are delivered.
David Bennett, Chief Executive and Chair of Monitor, said:
Over the next 8 years, the health sector faces its greatest financial challenge in recent times. We are all going to have to strain every sinew to meet it.
While there are individual things the sector can do – like be more efficient in its procurement or introducing new ways of working in hospitals – what is required is a step-change. In short, the NHS must undergo radical change if it is to survive.
Monitor, as the health sector regulator, will not only be supporting, but actively enabling changes that deliver better services for patients and reduce costs.