The money to pay for the NHS is limited and need is continually increasing
NHS funding currently increases with the cost of living inflation each year. However, the costs of providing care are rising much faster because the NHS is now treating more people with more complex conditions than ever before and people are living longer.
There have been huge technical advances in diagnostic medicine and in treatments for a wide range of conditions, but these new medicines and treatments are often expensive.
People also have higher expectations of health services these days. Given the current financial climate, sustained and substantial increases in NHS funding are unlikely for the foreseeable future, which means that we need to do things differently if we are to continue to deliver the best possible care for patients in the years ahead.
The current government has committed to meeting the request in the NHS Five Year Forward View for £8billion of extra funding nationwide by 2020. This will improve the situation, but will not close the financial gap, which is likely to remain significant.
Because the costs of healthcare are rising much faster than NHS funding, we know that if we continue in same way, then by 2020/21 we will not have enough money to pay for the services we currently provide. The NHS England Five Year Forward View is consequently based on the assumption that the way in which services are being delivered will change, with more focus on community-based services and supporting people to stay well.
Hospitals in south east London, as elsewhere across the country, are already facing financial pressures, making the need to do things differently all the more pressing.
To add to this, local councils, who are responsible for social care services, are also experiencing pressures from an ageing population, increased demand for social care and reductions in funding, resulting in them looking to save over 30% of their current expenditure over the next three to four years.
Every one of us pays for the NHS and we have a responsibility to spend this money well
From now on, we need to explore all opportunities and get better value for money for all that is done in the NHS and social care services, in order to operate within the available resources. We need to get the best possible outcomes for patients for every pound available, making the most of resources that are under increasing pressure.
This means we need a more integrated approach between different services. Each pound that we spend is spent as part of the whole NHS and social care system.
You can read more about the financial challenge in south east London, and how we are addressing this, in our financial summary.