The Committee’s evidence session began with the Head of NHS England speaking out against comments made in that day’s press by sources at No. 10. We believe that the Department of Health, NHS England and No. 10 must work together in the best interests of patients. The fact that key players running our NHS are bickering in public does little to inspire confidence that patients are at the heart of everyone’s priorities. As this report underlines, the NHS is facing huge challenges. This requires a united effort to resolve these for the long term.
Faced with these pressures, the Department of Health has resorted to raiding the separate capital budget earmarked for long-term investment and is using this to fund day-to-day spending. Reducing investment in the hospital estate and medical equipment risks making the NHS less sustainable in the longer-term and limits the funding for investing in new services in the community. Local sustainability and transformation plans are supposed to be a vehicle for creating a modern day NHS, but NHS England and NHS Improvement have much more to do before the public can feel confident that plans are achievable, especially when the Head of NHS Improvement acknowledges that the 4% efficiency savings required are so challenging. We recognise the unprecedented challenge of achieving financial sustainability when patient demand is rising, budgets are tight and pressures in social care are impacting on the NHS. But the Department, NHS England and NHS Improvement are asking local bodies to solve multiple problems and deliver a range of priorities, without a proper understanding of what they can realistically achieve. Transformation under such pressure is hard to achieve.
23 February 2017