A predicted £15 billion funding shortfall will make the next 10 years ‘extremely challenging’ for the NHS, a report has claimed.
The NHS Confederation’s report - Dealing with the downturn: The greatest ever leadership challenge for the NHS? - said the next two years would be ‘tough but manageable’.
But the organisation, which represents 90% of all NHS bodies, warned the impact of the recession and rising costs meant ‘the position beyond 2010/11 is very different and extremely challenging’.
NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett said: ‘If [the NHS] does not prepare itself for real-terms reductions, then the mistakes of the past could be repeated and shortages in funding will translate to the kind of across-the-board cuts which could see waiting lists lengthen, standards fall and dissatisfaction with the service grow among patients and staff.’
The Department of Health said the NHS budget for 2009/10 has increased in real terms by 7.5% on last year, to stand at £102.7 billion.
And it said next year would see a further hike, this time by 1.6% in real terms, to put the budget at £105.8 billion.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, agreed that difficult choices would have to be made, and called for a reversal of recent policy which encourages a market environment in healthcare in the English NHS.