NHS is heading for a huge deficit

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.

SIMON Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England, says that 70 per cent of the NHS budget is being spent on the 15m patients who have long-term chronic diseases such as dementia, diabetes, arthritis and hypertension.

These patients account for half of all GP appointments, two thirds of hospital outpatient appointments and seven out of every 10 inpatient beds.

This situation is worsening because the population is growing, patients are living longer and the cost of providing them with expensive drugs and caring for them is increasing rapidly.

Seven years from now, unless there are major organisational changes, the NHS will be operating with a £30bn-a-year deficit.

Mr Stevens says that to cut costs, the emphasis in future must be on prevention rather than cure, that health and social care budgets must be integrated, that patients must have more control of their own care and that better use must be made of technology.

He confirmed that NHS spending must be reduced by £22bn a year along with a funding increase of £8bn a year.

Mr Stevens is confident that with the right reforms there will be no need for any increase in “spending per patient’’ in the future.

He also says that competition between hospitals in future will improve efficiency and quality and also save lives.

Most importantly, he wants different parts of the NHS to come up with their own plans, based on his ideas, because that is the way to deliver the radical changes that the NHS badly needs to improve patient care and reduce spending at the same time.

Alan Foster, chief executive of the North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust now says it is unlikely that the Government will give them the go-ahead as far as the new Wynyard hospital is concerned, and our MP, Iain Wright and “Save Our Hospital’’ campaigner Keith Fisher responded by calling for services to be brought back to Hartlepool from North Tees.

Coun Geoff Lilley said that the hospital trust leaders should resign because their plans have fallen down “like a house of cards’’.

Alan Foster then confirmed that the new Wynyard hospital is still a key part of their plans and that services would not be moving back to Hartlepool, and more services could be transferred to North Tees.

He also wants to seek views on delivering more care closer to patients’ homes while continuing to centralise services to maintain and improve the safety and quality of hospital-based provision.

It is obvious that the views of Iain Wright, Keith Fisher and Geoff Lilley are diametrically opposed to the plans being developed by the hospital trust, and I suggest that it would be helpful if a private meeting could be arranged, without delay, to give the three protestors the opportunity to explain precisely how, in their opinion, all the previously transferred services, including A&E, can be returned to Hartlepool without any adverse effects on safety, the quality of care or budgetary control.

A lively discussion would no doubt follow.

Jim Allan