Tory cuts? No, NHS spending ‘at its highest level in history’
HEALTH spending is running at the highest level in history, a report found yesterday – despite Labour claims that the Tories have presided over years of ‘cuts’.
The study found by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found that annual spending on the NHS has reached £2,160 per person – up from just £500 in 1970.
The figures have also continued to rise steadily in terms of a fraction of Britain’s total income, increasing from 4.7 per cent in 1997 to 7.4 per cent last year.
The report said evidence also suggested that ‘patient satisfaction with the NHS is higher than it has ever been’. Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly claimed that the Tories have presided over deep ‘cuts’ to health spending – blaming reductions in spending for lengthening waiting times and even the recent NHS cyber attack.
But the NIESR report makes it clear that the accusation is wrong, saying: ‘The claims of the current government, and recent past governments is true – namely – that there has been a considerable extra investment in the NHS.’
However, the report also finds that health spending continues to lag behind levels in countries such as France and Germany. And it warns that the NHS is facing a looming cash crisis if more money is not pumped in over the next few years. The study finds that the pace of growth in health spending has slowed. And it says that, with health trust deficits running at almost £1 billion, the NHS is likely to need billions more in the coming years.
The Conservatives have pledged to pump in an extra £8 billion a year by the end of the next parliament if they win the next election – slightly higher than the £7.4 billion pledged by Labour.
But report author Peter Dolton warned the true need may be even higher, with Britain’s ageing population driving up demand inexorably.
Mr Dolton said: ‘It is regrettable that the major parties seem unwilling to acknowledge the extent of the NHS funding problem that we have and to fully explore policy alternatives.’