GP funding cuts revealed as think tank predicts NHS cash crisis

Spending on general practice fell £10m in the final year before PCTs were abolished, according to research by a think tank that predicts an NHS financial crisis before the 2015 general election.

Funding: Nuffield Trust research reveals looming NHS crisis
Funding: Nuffield Trust research reveals looming NHS crisis

The health service faces a major financial crisis by next year as NHS organisations begin to buckle under the strain of financial austerity, the Nuffield Trust analysis found.

Almost one in 10 CCGs ended the 2013/14 financial year in deficit, and the groups made savings worth just 2% of their total spend that year – just half the level required by the government’s efficiency drive.

The research found that spending on general practice fell £10m in the final year in which PCTs were in operation – 2012/13.

Surplus turned to deficit

NHS and foundation trusts as a whole were ‘at least £100m’ in deficit in 2013/14, compared with a surplus of £383m the previous year, the Nuffield Trust research revealed.

Meanwhile, a poll of 100 health and social care leaders commissioned by the think tank found that more than two thirds of respondents felt NHS providers would have to go into deficit to provide a high quality service.

Nearly half believe the NHS will no longer be free at the point of use in 10 years’ time.

Nuffield Trust senior policy fellow and co-author of the report Andy McKeon said: ‘The NHS has risen to the challenge of living within its means over the past three years. But it has now reached a tipping point. Our analysis shows just how poorly placed it is to cope with the squeeze still to come.

NHS faces tipping point

‘Demand for NHS services shows no signs of abating. With hospital finances increasingly weak, growing pressures on staffing, and the goal of moving care out of hospitals and into the community proving elusive, the NHS is heading for a funding crisis this year or next.’

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said: ‘This report provides audited figures that show the NHS is buckling under the pressure of rising patient demand and stagnating resources.

‘Every part of our health service is suffering, from understaffed, overworked hospitals to GP practices that are being overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients coming through the surgery door.  As a major new BMA survey released today shows, a lack of investment in GP practice buildings has left many cramped, inadequate and struggling to provide even basic services.’

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