Cameron confirms funding boost to create ‘seven-day’ NHS

18 May 15

Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that an extra £8bn will be put into the NHS over the course of the next Parliament to help support its transformation into a ‘seven-day’ service.

In his first major speech since the election, Cameron reiterated the Conservative government’s commitment to universal free healthcare.

‘There is nothing that embodies the spirit of one nation coming together – nothing that working people depend on more – than the NHS,’ he said.

‘Our commitment is to free healthcare for everyone – wherever you are and whenever you need it.

‘So I believe that together – by sticking to the plan – we can become the first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS.’

The prime minister said it was a ‘shocking fact’ that deaths rates for patients admitted to hospital on a Sunday were as much as 16% higher than those admitted on a Wednesday. He noted that the bulk of seriously ill patients tended to be admitted at the weekend when hospitals were least well equipped to handle them.

Shifting the NHS on to a seven-day basis would make the service safer and help save lives, Cameron said.

He stressed that this did not mean staff had to work longer, but that there should be a more flexible approach to work patterns.

Responding to the prime minister’s speech, Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said it was right to aspire towards a seven-day NHS.

‘Whether the government will provide the funding available to achieve this aspiration is a key question though – the extra £8bn it has pledged by the end of 2020/21 will be enough to keep existing services running but little else,’ he said.

Edwards added that the government should be under ‘no illusion’ about what the shift to seven-day working would mean.

‘It will mean significant changes to the way services are run across the country, and it will also require recruiting a critical mass of specialist staff.

‘Making seven-day working a reality may also mean closures or mergers of local services, such as emergency surgery or maternity units. So, this will not only cost additional money beyond the £8bn but it will also require political bravery.’

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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