Minister admits Brexit will pile pressure on NHS

2 Oct 17

Brexit will put pressure on the health service at a time when it needs extra funding, a Conservative health minister acknowledged at the party’s conference in Manchester today.

Speaking at a Localis-hosted fringe event, called ‘Will the NHS ever have enough money’, health minister Philip Dunne acknowledged that leaving the EU would “undoubtedly” have an impact on the NHS workforce.

He said he would read a recent Royal College of Nursing report, which warned that staff shortages were causing serious morale and care quality concerns for frontline staff.

The minister cited recently announced increases in doctor and nurse training positions as evidence that the government was taking steps to ensure more homegrown healthcare staff were recruited into the system.

Other speakers on the panel, who included Niall Dickson chief executive of NHS Confederation and David Hare, chief executive of NHS Partners Network all stated more money for the health service was required in the face of rising demand.

Dunne said the government was responding to increasing demand posed by the ageing population by “getting a handle” on factors driving these pressures.

He told attendees that the government can’t do anything about demographics but can improve the way people’s health care is managed to lessen the burden on public services.

Dunne said: “We need to look more intelligently about the way in which we manage health care in a holistic way. We tend to regard the NHS, which is the largest organisation in the country, as an organisation which is there to treat people – which it is – but we need to look at it as an organisation to manage people’s health.”

He cited the STPs and accountable care organisations as steps in the right direction towards that aim.

On the issue of funding he said: “Last year, although there was a deficit in the provider sector, it was made up from the reserves in the commissioning sector, so we landed the budget with a £60m surplus on a budget of £117bn worth of spend.

“This year, we will be spending £120bn, which is more than a £3bn increase in funding in the current year on last year, and we have committed in our manifesto to deliver a per capita increase in funding in the department so there will be a continuing increase in funding in the NHS to cope with some of the increases in demand.”

Dickson argued that in addition to an increase in day-to-day spending, a “major capital injection” was needed to sustain the NHS.

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