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Labour peer Norman Warner: NHS on ‘borrowed time’


A Labour former Health minister has warned that the NHS “is living on borrowed time” and called for an end to its protected budget.

Norman Warner said the health service’s business model “is bust” and it should no longer be exempt from the austerity measures that have hit most government departments. Without urgent action there will be a “financial train crash” after the 2015 general election, he suggested.

Lord Warner, who was in charge of health-service reform in the last government, also admitted Labour failed to secure the improvements in the NHS that it should have for the amount of extra cash it pumped in.

At a Health and Care Infrastructure Research and Innovation Centre forum on NHS innovation in central London, he said: “The NHS is living on borrowed time. Its business model is bust.

“It is like IBM and ICL several decades ago – preoccupied with mainframes while the world was moving to PCs.”

Health minister Dan Poulter responded: “We are passionate about the NHS and want to safeguard its legacy.

“But the health service cannot stand still in the face of an ageing population with changing health needs.”