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Report raises possibility of charging for NHS services

By News team

Spending projections for the NHS in England over the next 10 years are "far from rosy" and there is a desperate need for productivity increases, according to a published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (4 July 2012).

"If value-for-money improvements are not achieved at the rate required to bridge the gap between funding increases and demand pressures, then access to and quality of care is likely to deteriorate," it warns.

Serious thought would then need to be given to options such as reconsidering the range of services that are available free of charge to the whole population.

According to the report, the planned real freeze in NHS spending from 2011–12 to 2014–15 will, if delivered, make this the tightest funding period the NHS has had in 50 years.

"A return to real growth in NHS spending might be expected between 2015–16 and 2021–22. However, such an increase would come at a cost to other public services, many of which [have] significant real cuts in the budgets planned," it says.

In order to increase NHS spending in line with national income and allow a marginal rise in spending on other public services up to 2021–22, the Government would need to increase taxes or make further welfare cuts, or both, to the tune of around £9bn. And even this level of spending increase would, after four years of freezes, be "a challenging settlement for the NHS".

The report stresses the need for increases in NHS productivity — but concedes that such increases are "notoriously hard to find and deliver".

Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 11103941

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