NHS Providers warned that extra funding for general practice and social care is ‘vital’ to allow the NHS to restore its financial balance and ensure patients do not wait longer for treatment .
Both services are under ‘extreme pressure’, it said, causing knock-on problems throughout the health service.
NHS Providers urged the government to use its autumn statement – to be released on 23 November – to announce ‘extra funding beyond hospitals and into [these] areas of greatest need’, warning that the NHS was fighting a ‘losing battle’.
The funding pressures are causing a significant number of patients to attend A&E departments when they should have been seen in primary care instead, it warned.
Statistics show that on any given day up to 6,800 beds in hospitals are occupied by patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but cannot due to a lack of available services in community care, costing £820m a year.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: ‘There is now a clear gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding available.
‘NHS trusts are working flat out to develop new and better ways of delivering patient care, but they urgently need targeted extra investment in the areas of greatest need. Investing in general practice and social care, as well as stopping the raids on capital spending to ensure our hospitals and other buildings are fit for purpose, must be an urgent priority.
‘This would help GPs and care services to ease the rising pressure on hospital, ambulance, community and mental health trusts, which in turn would improve the quality of care people receive.
‘The investment must be accompanied by a rethink of plans for this parliament. Providers will do all they can to improve productivity, realise efficiencies and move to new ways of providing care. But over the next three years demand and cost will rise by at least 4% a year whilst real terms health funding per head is flat or actually reduces. We therefore have to decide what the NHS should prioritise. The NHS simply cannot do all that it is currently doing and is being asked to do in future on these funding levels.’