BMA calls for new health funding after NHS chief warns of financial pressure

Doctors leaders have called for a bold new NHS funding plan after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens admitted there was not enough money.

Mr Stevens hit out at the government over NHS funding while giving evidence to the House of Commons’ public accounts committee on Wednesday. He denied government claims the NHS was getting more than it asked for.

NHS England ‘got less than we asked for’ in the latest spending review, Mr Stevens said. ‘It would be stretching it to say that we got more than we asked for,' he added.

Mr Stevens also suggested that health spending in England was lower than other EU countries.

Funding would be ‘highly constrained’ over the next three years, the NHS boss told MPs, with real terms per person health spending set to fall in 2018/19, ‘placing huge pressures’ on services.

The BMA said Mr Stevens was admitting what doctors already knew and the government could not continue to ‘stick its head in the sand’.

The government has said the NHS will see an increase in real terms in its funding of £10bn and pointed out that Mr Stevens welcomed that funding settlement when it was agreed.

Reports have suggested that Number 10 has lost confidence in Mr Stevens. The Times reported on Wednesday that senior aides of prime minister Theresa May had accused Mr Stevens of ‘being insufficiently enthusiastic and responsive’.

Not enough money

However, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said that Mr Stevens had admitted what doctors already know. 'There is not enough money to fund our health service. The government talks about injecting £10bn into the NHS, yet in reality the increase in health spending is less than half of that.’

‘Instead of outlining a plan to deal with the crisis, the government has tried to play down the pressure that services are under. The government cannot continue to stick its head in the sand. Our hospitals are in the red, GPs are unable to keep up with the number of patients coming through the surgery door, patients are suffering and staff are working under impossible conditions.’

He added: ‘With transformation plans likely to make up to £26bn in cuts to health and social care across the country, now more than ever we need a bold plan from the government and a commitment to invest what is needed – on both fronts, the government is falling well short.’

Ignoring crisis

On Wednesday Ms May clashed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over the NHS during prime minister’s questions. Mr Corbyn accused the prime minister of being in denial about the winter crisis affecting parts of the NHS. But Ms May hit out at the Red Cross calling its description of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the service  ‘irresponsible and overblown’.

She said 2,500 more people were being treated within four hours every day because of additional funding the government had provided.

Dr Porter said Ms May was 'wilfully ignoring the scale of the crisis' in the NHS.

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