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NHS financial sustainability dependent on spending review says NAO

18 January 2019

 NHS financial sustainability: National Audit Office (NAO)

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The report examines whether the NHS is on track to achieve financial sustainability.

This is NAO’s seventh report on the financial sustainability of the NHS. The previous reports showed that financial problems in the NHS were ongoing. Health Trusts continually needed extra money to keep the system going but were failing to make the NHS sustainable.

Local partnerships of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts (trusts) and local authorities were set up to develop long-term strategic plans and transform the way services are provided more quickly.

This report covers 2017-18. It says the current position does not look sustainable. However, the long-term plan for the NHS has been published, and government has committed to longer-term stable growth in funding for NHS England, which NAO thinks is ‘prudent’.

The NAO says that it needs to know the level of settlement for other key areas of health spending in the Spending Review later in the year to decide if the NHS plans are sustainable.

“As we head into the Spending Review the NHS will undoubtedly be the envy of other departments. The promise of longer-term sustained funding growth for NHS England, together with a long-term plan, is a positive and welcome development. This should enable a more strategic approach to spending and we can expect to see a less turbulent financial context than in the last few years, if the funding is spent wisely.

“The plan we have seen so far seems to be based on prudent assumptions, but we will really be able to assess whether the ambitions set forth are supported by funding when we can see the results of the Spending Review for the non-NHS England parts of the health service, and the funding for social care.”

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, 18 January 2019

Disability Rights UK has already criticised NHS the Long Term Plan for ignoring the crisis in social care. So, we too will be interested in the funding for social care, including the ‘increasingly mythical’ forthcoming social care green paper.