Tory cuts? No, NHS spend­ing ‘at its high­est level in his­tory’

Daily Mail - - Election 2017 - By Ja­son Groves Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

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.’

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