PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NATIONAL HEALTH ACTION PARTY
Saturday April 11th
“5 reasons we can’t trust the Tories’ latest NHS pledge:
It’s too woolly
The man holding the Tory purse strings, Chancellor George Osborne, writes in today’s Guardian: “I can confirm that in the Conservative manifesto next week we will commit to a minimum real terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn in the next five years.” But NHS boss Simon Stevens is calling for an extra £8bn PER year by 2020.
Osborne, Cameron and Hunt are refusing to tell us where the money will come from. This morning Jeremy Hunt told the Today Programme the NHS will be funded by economic confidence. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. The Tories want us to look at their record and trust them. This from the party that promised no more top-down reorganisations – and then launched a top-down reorganisation so big it could be seen from ‘outer space’ (words of ex NHS boss David Nicholson). They are unable to tell us where the £12bn welfare spending axe will fall, and now they can’t tell us where the £8bn NHS money will come from either.
The Tories resort to their mantra: “a strong NHS relies on a strong economy”. So if they fail to deliver a strong economy, where does that leave the NHS? Presumably the Tories believe a weak economy means a weak NHS.
It’s a gamble
Even if (and that’s a big if) the Tories provide a fully-funded plan to come up with £8bn per year by 2020, to be able to meet the NHS funding gap of £30bn, the Simon Stevens plan relies on a further £22bn of efficiency savings which requires 2-3% efficiency savings a year. These are not feasible. Firstly the NHS has already been cut to the bone with a £20bn programme of ‘efficiency savings’ which has left our the NHS in crisis with emergency services, general practice and mental health at breaking point, targets missed for routine operations and cancer treatment, thousands of hospital beds axes and scores of A&E departments, maternity units, walk-in centres and ambulance stations closed down. Secondly NHS efficiency growth in the hospital sector is “substantially below” previous estimates (thanks in part to the government’s costly, damaging and distracting NHS reorganisation) averaging just 0.4% a year over this parliament, according to a new report form the Health Foundation. This means the scale of efficiency savings needed is actually impossible.
It’s not enough
The Tories tell us they’ve protected and increased NHS funding. This is pure spin. In real terms, once you take into account inflation, our increasing and ageing population, the cost of new drugs, and lifestyle factors, the Tories have actually cut NHS funding. Plus there are massive knock-on effects on the NHS from savage social care cuts due to the Tory axing of local authority funding. The Tories tell us they’ve increased doctors and nurses but there’s actually been a fall in real terms when you take into account the population increase.
The efficiency savings made so far have already taken the low hanging fruit and pushed the NHS to the cliff-edge. The Tory cuts have turned the NHS from a non-issue in the 2010 General Election to the number one issue in this election. To subject the NHS to the same level of efficiency savings for another 5 years will push the NHS over the edge.
That’s why the NHA Party is calling for an immediate injection of cash, tantamount to a £4.5 billion yearly increase, funded by a penny rise in income tax. We’d also introduce other policies which would save the NHS billions, including scrapping the market, halting privatisation and unwinding PFI deals, and stopping wasting billions of pounds on locums, management consultants and spin doctors. This confirms the NHA as the only party getting anywhere close to the extra £30 billion extra required without relying on a dangerous and unfeasible programme of £22 billion of further cuts.”