Radical blueprint urges political leaders to plug £8bn hole in NHS finances

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PRESSURE has intensified on politicians to find extra money for the NHS after its boss yesterday said it should be “perfectly feasible” for Whitehall to find £8bn a year extra to plug a gap in finances.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens threw down the gauntlet amid warnings the cash shortfall would have a severe impact on patients.

Six leading NHS organisations yesterday set out a five-year blueprint for radical changes to relieve pressures and slash £22bn from annual costs.

Large GP surgeries could provide hospital services under the proposals – which also include measures to prevent ill-health, such as employers offering workers cash or vouchers if they lose weight.

But the analysis warns even that will be insufficient to rescue the NHS from a financial blackhole unless Whitehall funding is increased by another 1.5 per cent a year above inflation.

Mr Stevens said: “We have got to get more serious about prevention, we have got to get serious about changing the way care is provided ... and if we do that, the NHS can deal with at least two-thirds of what would otherwise have been the funding gap over the course of the next five years.

“What remains is, we think, something that is perfectly feasible as the economy improves, for the next government to address. It is lower rates of increase than the NHS has needed at points in the past. We do not believe there is anything about the next five years which should call into question the sustainability of a tax-funded, comprehensive health service which the people of this country want.”

The report also called for assurances that there would be no further top-down administrative reorganisations of the NHS after a long period of upheavals.

Mr Stevens said: “There is no right answer as to how various bits of the NHS administration are organised but there is a wrong answer and that is to keep changing your mind.”