An NHS Free At The Point Of Use Could Soon Be A Thing Of The Past

A National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be “unsustainable”, if the political parties do not come forward with radical plans for change before the 2015 election, top health officials have warned.

Stagnant health spending combined with ever rising costs and demand mean the NHS is facing “the most challenging period in its 65-year existence”, the NHS Confederation said, as the membership body that brings together all NHS providers launched its 2015 Challenge.

In a frank assessment of the dangers faced by the health service, senior officials at the confederation say that the two years following the next general election will be pivotal in deciding whether the NHS can continue to provide free health care for all patients.

“Treasury funding for the service will be at best level in real terms,” they write. “Given that demand continues to rise, drugs cost more, and NHS inflation is higher than general inflation, the NHS is facing a funding gap estimated at up to £30bn by 2020.”

They argue that the NHS must change from a health service designed to address the “needs of the 1960s”, with a focus on hospital care and treatment of acute illness and injury, into a service better equipped to look after people with long-term conditions, with a focus on community care.

The Independent

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