The BBC has reported that, according to senior health sources, the £100 billion or so that the NHS in England is due to receive from April 2015 may not be enough leaving it with a funding gap in the next financial year. Austerity measures over the past few years, coupled with increased demands on NHS services due to population growth and higher pension costs within the NHS, are leading to concerns that the sums do "not add up". Monitor, the health regulator, has estimated that, even after efficiency savings, the funding gap for secondary healthcare (hospitals and mental health services) may be £1.6 billion.
Chris Ham, chief executive of healthcare charity, the King’s Fund, has said that “there is a real risk" of local hospitals running out of funding "particularly next year”. Mr Ham also pointed out that, while the Better Care Fund (BCF), a £3.8bn single pooled budget to support health and social care services to work more closely together in local areas, is "a good idea", it is set to drain £2 billion from the NHS budget in 2015/16. As a result, hospitals will have "to find even bigger efficiency savings to balance the books and delivery good standards of patient care."
A spokesperson for the health think tank, the Health Foundation, said that, while the NHS has been managing to make savings in austere times, more money will be needed as the NHS takes on more nurses, the price of drugs rises and pension costs increase.
The Department of Health released a statement saying: “The NHS is on track to make £20bn savings this parliament and we are confident that it will continue to make the savings necessary to meet rising demand”.
Camilla Wonnacott of Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team said: "The fact that senior figures involved in the NHS and healthcare are openly discussing the prospect of a reduction in services and the quality of patient care due to a lack of funding is very worrying. Many of our clients have been injured as a direct result of the underfunding of NHS services. Further pressure on NHS budgets is only likely to lead to more patient injuries and increased claims in the future. We will continue to call for NHS funding levels to be maintained and, where necessary, increased to ensure proper care for all NHS patients."