The NHS Funding Crisis

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
11 December 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference is appalled at the ongoing under-funding of our NHS.

Conference refutes the claims of the Westminster government to have protected the NHS from spending cuts.

Conference asserts that since 2010 NHS spending has failed miserably to keep pace with the spiralling costs of healthcare caused by increased demand, an ageing population and expensive new drugs and treatments.

Although health is a devolved matter, Conference notes that the failure by the Westminster government to allocate sufficient funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland means that cuts and closures are not restricted to England.

Conferences notes that in October 2015 the King’s Fund think tank pointed out that David Cameron is likely to preside over the largest sustained fall in NHS spending as a share of GDP since the 1950s – a damning indictment of Conservative health policy.

Furthermore, Conference notes that OECD research shows the UK has slipped down the international league table of health spending, falling behind the likes of Slovenia and Finland.

Conference draws attention to the fact that spending cuts in areas such as public health, training and education, and social care are making the problems for the NHS far worse. And Conference is alarmed that arms-length bodies seem to be in line for particularly swingeing cuts.

Conference notes that the Tory promise of an extra £8bn of spending in England by 2020 has yet to materialise, and even then the £22bn of so-called “efficiency savings” demanded alongside this will render any headline increases in spending virtually meaningless.

Conference believes that local plans to redesign healthcare services, to integrate with social care functions or implement new models of care will only be successful with proper levels of upfront funding to allow for spending on areas such as double-running costs and staff redeployment and retraining.

Given that staffing costs make up such a large percentage of the overall healthcare budget, Conference fears that attempts to make such substantial cuts across all parts of the UK are highly likely to result in attacks on the pay, terms and conditions of healthcare staff.

Indeed Conference notes that huge numbers of healthcare staff across the UK are already having to cope with increasing workloads, lower staffing levels and unacceptable levels of stress as a result of the failure to provide adequate funding.

Conference also fears that initiatives such as the Carter review in England mean that trusts may increasingly be tempted to look at short-term cost-cutting measures such as outsourcing their support services.

Conference therefore calls upon the Health SGE to work with other parts of the union to:

1)continue to campaign for increased NHS funding across the UK and an end to the cuts;

2)work with other unions and through the TUC to make the case for immediate extra funding for the NHS, for areas such as public health to be protected, and for mental health services to receive equal funding; and for overall spending on the NHS to be brought up to the level of comparable European countries such as France and Germany;

3)resist any national or local plans to use the funding squeeze as an excuse to target staff pay, terms and conditions; and

4)support UNISON’s One Team campaign to make sure that NHS support services in particular are not targeted for cuts or privatisation.