Kieran Walshe, Professor of health policy at Alliance Manchester Business School, was interviewed on Friday 9 October on BBC Radio 4 following the NHS’s quarter one accounts being revealed, uncovering the scale of the NHS deficit. Listen to the audio clip here >>
Professor Kieran Walshe began by discussing why finances at the health service have developed into such a worry for the government. He said that one of the reasons for this is that the financial woes had collated and appeared all at once.
Over the last parliament, there was no increase in funding for the NHS which has made the NHS’s financial situation much tougher than it has been in a very long time. Usually, to compensate for an aging population and to fund developments in new treatments, the spend increase should be around three to four percent per year.
This has been paired with other additional pressures on the service: population growth, targets and demand for an increase in staff. However, with the government putting a hold on spending increase, the sector seems to be financially spiralling out of control.
Professor Kieran Walshe also mentioned the lack of possibility to gain back financial control with the elimination of the Strategic Health Authority to manage the NHS’ finances.
With the publication of the NHS’ quarter one accounts, predictions of a two billion pound overspend were made, however, Professor Walshe disagreed saying that it’s likely to be much more.
When asked what the NHS should do, Professor Walshe asserted that there is not much space for bailouts from the Treasury; explaining that realistically, this just wouldn’t cover the cost. He noted that the NHS has been surviving on a zero percent increase in financial support for the past five years; this has caused a significant gap in the NHS’s finances that needs to be closed.