NHS ‘stuck in survival mode’ says select committee

PAC reports that DHSC must set out plans to secure a long-term funding settlement that reflects real need; Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, is a member of the committee.

Despite a rescue fund worth £1.8 billion in 2016-17, the financial position of the NHS remains in a perilous state, a report from the Public Accounts Committee, of which Stephen Morgan MP is a member, has said.

According to the report, the NHS is still very much in survival mode, with budgets unable to keep pace with demand.

The PAC has criticised an overreliance on short-term fixes and raised concerns that the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement are too focused on propping up the system and have not paid enough attention on transforming and improving patient services in the long term.

This short-term view was apparent over the winter when, despite early warning of a looming crisis, the Chancellor only announced additional funding in November.

With trusts forecasting a deficit of over £900 million in 2017-18, the NHS still has a long way to go before it is financially sustainable.

Despite earlier warnings from the Select Committee, the Department has not yet assessed the impact on patients or services of repeatedly raiding its capital budget to fund the short-term needs of the NHS.

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, said:

‘The National Health Service continues to scrape by on emergency hand-outs and funds that were intended for essential investment.

“We have said it before and we will say it again: rescue packages and budget transfers are no substitute for a coherent, properly funded strategy that enables NHS trusts to plan, focus on patient care and lay the groundwork for long-term financial sustainability.

“Government’s last-minute response to what were entirely predictable winter pressures is just the latest vivid demonstration of why fresh thinking is so desperately needed.’

Portsmouth South MP and member of the PAC, Stephen Morgan, added:

‘I was pleased to hear this week that QA will receive further capital investment from Government, and I’ll always welcome any extra money for our local hospitals with open arms. 

But at the same time, we must be realistic about the fundamental challenges surrounding not just funding, but also recruitment and retention, that face our NHS. 

The Government should read our report very carefully. So far, despite repeated warnings from the committee, they’ve failed to secure the long-term financial future of the NHS.

Previously, Government funding has come too little, too late. They must do better, Portsmouth can simply not afford a repeat of this year’s winter crisis.’