Cash shortage limits NHS improvements

IMPROVEMENTS in the numbers of patients treated by the NHS are slowing as cash injections for government reforms dry up. Sir Duncan Nichol, the NHS chief executive, said the health service was facing a 'challenging' year, as he launched last year's annual report.

In 1991-92, the first year of the changes, the number of finished consultant episodes - the approximation for patients treated - rose by 7.3 per cent, figures released yesterday show. Spending that year, in the run-up to the general election, rose by 6.6 per cent in real terms.

Last year, patient treatment numbers rose by 4.3 per cent, with a spending increase of 5.5 per cent, while in the current year, when spending has risen by 3 per cent, the number of patients treated is expected to rise by 3.5 per cent - half the rate of two years ago.

The NHS now faces 'a new challenge to maintain the momentum' he said, after a period when increases in the numbers of patients treated have 'outstripped anything we saw before the reforms'. In the 1980s, the increase in numbers treated averaged 2 per cent.

Next year ministers are hoping for a 4 per cent rise in activity on the back of the 1.4 per cent rise in spending announced in the Budget. That will depend on the level of pay rises and on efficiency gains of 2.25 per cent - the highest the NHS has ever been asked to produce.

Launching last year's health service annual report, Sir Duncan said the NHS had treated more patients than ever (nearly 8 million); had cut waiting times and become more cost-effective partly because of a switch to day surgery, from 38 per cent of non-urgent cases to a forecast 45 per cent this year.

David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, argued the report was out of date, with figures showing a 25 per cent rise in numbers waiting more than a year for treatment.

The new figures come as Sir Duncan confirmed that league tables of hospitals' performance will be published in June after agreement with the Audit Commission on how they should be compiled.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue
E L James's book Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

It's hard to understand why so many are buying it – but then best-selling was ever an inexact science, says DJ Taylor
Behind the scenes of the world's most experimental science labs

World's most experimental science labs

The photographer Daniel Stier has spent four years gaining access to some of the world's most curious scientific experiments
It's the stroke of champions - so why is the single-handed backhand on the way out?

Single-handed backhand: on the way out?

If today's young guns wish to elevate themselves to the heights of Sampras, Graf and Federer, it's time to fire up the most thrilling shot in tennis
HMS Saracen: Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled

HMS Saracen

Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'

7/7 bombings 10 years on

Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'