NHS may need emergency cash bailout

 

Ministers fear that the National Health Service could require an emergency cash bailout before the next general election to enable it to cope with the escalating demands of an ageing population.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has promised a real-terms increase in health spending over the next four years. But there is growing anxiety within the Government that the extra money will not be enough to provide care for the growing number of elderly patients and meet the rising cost of advanced medical treatments.

Mr Osborne and the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, are calling for £20bn of efficiency savings in the health service over the same period, without cuts being made to services provided to patients.

One minister conceded yesterday that the combination of factors was likely to mean the NHS would need more money before the election, which is expected in 2015. "That would mean having to reopen the spending settlement, which would be a huge problem for us. But it is hard to see how it can be avoided," he said.

The warning emerged as the Government's controversial NHS reforms dominated the Commons yesterday, with Ed Miliband likening them to the poll tax and Labour staging a full debate on the issue.

Meanwhile, the medic who was reprimanded by his health authority for condemning the reforms in a letter to The Independent was named yesterday as Professor John Ashton, NHS Cumbria's director of public health.

He was summoned to a meeting with the trust's chief executive, Sue Page, to explain himself. Labour raised the issue in the Commons on Tuesday claiming it was evidence of NHS managers trying to bully critics into silence.

An NHS Cumbria spokesman said clinicians were always free to express their opinions as individuals but had to be clear they were not speaking on behalf of their employers.

"NHS organisations must always remain non-political. The meeting with Professor Ashton this week is not a disciplinary meeting but is to ensure that he is always mindful of these differences," the spokesman said.

However, in an essay published yesterday in The Lancet, Professor Ashton stepped up his attack on the Health and Social Care Bill. He argued it marked the beginning of a return to an insurance-based system that would recreate the division between the wealthy, who could afford care, and the "undeserving poor".

With the Bill set to return to the Lords next week, there is growing dismay on both sides of the Coalition over the impact of the planned reforms on Tory and Liberal Democrat fortunes at the next election.

"Every time there's some kind of mistake or a hospital unit closes it will get blamed on the reforms," a minister said.

But there is widespread agreement within the Coalition that the plans are far too advanced – and too much political capital has been spent on them – for the Bill to be ditched.

In yesterday's exchanges, Mr Miliband claimed that the Prime Minister had lost the confidence of health service staff. Mr Cameron retorted that the reforms would save the NHS and accused the Labour leader of opportunism.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea