By 2020, Britain’s spending on its health service will be £43 billion less a year than the average spent by its European neighbours such as France and Germany according to research by the King’s Fund.
The think tank the King’s Fund has concluded that Britain now ranks in a lowly 13th position out of the original 15 EU members in terms of investment into their health services and critics have called Britain the “sick person of Europe.”
Although ministers have recently highlighted how they are funding the NHS in England an increasing share of overall government spending, figures courtesy of the King’s Fund chief economist Professor John Appleby have doubted ministers claims. According to John Appleby in his report for the King’s Fund, the Government’s decision to increase the NHS’s budget by far less than the anticipated growth in GDP meant the NHS would miss out on what would be an extra £16 billion by 2020.
Appleby has warned that if Britain continues it’s trend of “low spending” then it might mean that the NHS cannot deliver improvements in quality care and patients will undoubtedly suffer.
The latest data shows that Britain spent 8.5% of its total GDP on healthcare in 2013, 1.6% less than the EU average which currently stands at 10.1% and according to Appleby it would take a lot of money and effort for the UK to catch up to it’s European counterparts.
“If we were to close this gap solely by increasing NHS spending, and assuming that health spending in other UK countries was in line with the 2015 spending review plans for England, by 2020-21 it would take an increase of 30% – £43bn – in real terms to match the EU-14’s level of spend in 2013, taking total NHS spending to £185bn.
“It’s clear that the UK is currently a relatively low spender on healthcare, with a prospect of sinking further down the international league tables,” Appleby said.
“This squeeze on health spending is bad for the NHS and it is bad for patients. It is clear that our health service is going to need much more money than this government is prepared to spend,” the shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander said.
Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat Health Minister who was part of the coalition last may stated: “These new figure show why we can’t just keep sleepwalking into a disaster. The NHS and care systems will crash if we carry on as we are because the current amount [going into the NHS] is not enough and everyone in the NHS knows it.”
Ministers have so far declined to comment on the aforementioned research. The Department of Health have stated that it is contributing to the NHS the necessary money that its Chief Executive Simon Stevens has said that is needed by 2020.
Last week the junior doctors strike heaped pressure on David Cameron and his Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and research showing a decline in healthcare funding compared to other European nations is hardly likely to relieve this pressure. It can be safely said that the average tax payer is strongly in favor of a strong, well funded and free NHS, well, the Kings Fund research has shown that at least one of these three points could be in decline, lets hope the other two don’t go in the same direction – the wrong direction as far as tax payers will be concerned.