The NHS is under even more pressure now as high as the Covid-19 vaccine and will need continued emergency levels of funding to end the winter ahead, health service leaders have warned the government.
In a letter delivered by the prime minister, the chancellor, the secretary of health, and the chief executive of NHS England, NHS Providers warned that without continued financial support received in the earlier stages of coronavirus emergencies, the NHS may not be able to meet the challenges it faces over the next nine months.
“The NHS has delivered in a remarkable way over the last 18 months, always in the fall of a hat”
This includes the record level of need for urgent and emergency care; hospital backlogs, mental health and community service; and problems associated with the Covid-19 pandemic from increasing acceptance and infection control measures that limit the capacity of a large number of self-employed as well as high and increasing numbers suffering from stress and issues of mental health.
In the coming months the NHS will also use the expanded Covid-19 vaccination program and the expanded flu campaign and will have to deal with what is predicted to be a difficult winter season.
The NHS has received significant additional funding for the first half of the current financial year to address the Covid-19 crisis.
NHS providers are now calling for the government to make the “right decision” about funding for the second half of the financial year.
The group is asking for a continued release of funds that will help avoid delays, and financial support for the planned operation.
In addition, it asked the government to fully fund the recently announced 3% award fee so that trusts do not have to find the money for salary increases from those already in budget.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: “The NHS has delivered in a remarkable way over the last 18 months, always falling off a hat.”
But he warned it would be too soon for NHS funding to “return to normal”.
“Many chief NHS executives believe that the next phase of our fight against Covid-19 is probably the most difficult given the scale and breadth of the pressures they face,” said Mr. Hopson.
“This current game of smoke and mirrors is dangerous for the patients and care staff who care for them”
“They are clear that, now especially in the first place, the NHS needs to get the funding it needs to win the fight.
Trust and frontline staff are committed to maintaining the quality of care that patients rightly expect through these challenges.
“But it can happen if the government provides the right funding for the rest of the year.”
In response to the letter, an RCN spokesperson said: “We reiterate NHS Providers’ call for the NHS to be properly funded in the ongoing fight against Covid-19, resolve arrears, pay nurse staff a significant salary and to address other key issues.
“Clearly the government is not giving the NHS the money it really needs, especially when it comes to low inflation coming from those with budgets.
“This current game of smoke and mirrors is dangerous for patients and the care staff who care for them.”
In a statement in response to the letter, the Department of Health and Social Care said discussions about additional financial support for the NHS in the second half of this year were “ongoing”.
It added that an additional £ 3bn has already been allocated to review spending, which is more than the £ 6.6bn allocated for the first half of this year to meet the ongoing pandemic costs.
A government spokesman said: “We have given the NHS a historic settlement in 2018, which will see its budget increase to £ 33.9bn by 2023-24, and we are providing an additional £ 92bn to support services in health and care of the whole disease.
“We will make sure the NHS and everyone working here have everything they need to continue to provide good care to the public, throughout the pandemic and so on.”