Lower or capped NHS spending, together with the effects of unemployment on health, deprivation caused by the credit crisis and looming recession, make the longer term forecast bleak, warns John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King’s Fund, on bmj.com.
“NHS spending is guaranteed up to April 2011; what happens after then looks decidedly less rosy”, he warns. At best, according to Mr Appleby, the NHS might expect no real growth in funding from 2011, and that because of more solid financial management the NHS is now better equipped to deal with the economic downturn than in previous years.
Currently, inflation is high and will reduce the spending power of the NHS – every 1% increase will cost the health service around £380 million. It is expected to rise sharply next year, and with a three-year pay deal in place for most NHS staff, calls for high wage claims will be strongly resisted by the government, said Mr Appleby.
It is essential that preparations are made for the inevitable difficult financial and health future, he concluded.