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NHS is struggling more NOW than during Covid, its boss says as she warns situation will only get worse amid calls to give ailing health service ANOTHER £7billion

  • Amanda Pritchard issued her warning at the King’s Fund annual conference
  • She also confirmed that she is negotiating with ministers for more funding 
  • Health service officials are seeking to close a £7billion funding gap next year 

The NHS will come under more pressure in the months and years ahead than it did during the pandemic, its chief executive has said.

Amanda Pritchard issued her stark warning as she confirmed she is negotiating with ministers for more funding, adding: ‘They are aware NHS budgets will only stretch so far.’

Health service officials are seeking to close a £7billion funding gap next year, which has been fuelled by soaring inflation and costly staff pay rises.

A record 7million people in England, one in eight of the population, are on waiting lists, can montelukast make you gain weight with fears the backlog could keep rising until 2025.

Hospitals are battling to bring the numbers down in the face of widespread staff shortages, with around one in ten posts unfilled.

HM Treasury data shows the NHS received £100.4billion in 2010/11 and its budget had grown steadily until 2019. In 2020, the NHS was given £129.7billion of core funding for its usual services, which was topped up with an extra £18billion to help with the pressures from the pandemic. For 2021/22 the Treasury said the health service is set to receive £136.1billion pounds of core funding, as well as £3billion to help with the Covid recovery


Amanda Pritchard (left) issued her stark warning as she confirmed she is negotiating with ministers for more funding. Rishi Sunak (right) told a Cabinet meeting yesterday that while other departments should expect cuts, the Government will ‘always support’ the NHS, which will ‘continue to be prioritised’

Mrs Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, told a conference of health leaders it is difficult ‘not to be realistic about some of the challenges’ the NHS faces both locally and nationally.

‘When I started this job, I think I said at the time I thought that the pandemic would be the hardest thing any of us ever had to do,’ she said.

‘Over the last year, I’ve become really clear and I’ve said a number of times: it’s where we are now. 

‘It’s the months and years ahead that will bring the most complex challenges.

‘And that isn’t to take anything away, by the way, from just how tough particularly some of that early period of the pandemic was.

‘But it’s definitely proving to be the case, I think it is harder now. Why? Because, partly, we no longer have a single unifying mission.

‘Instead, we are dealing with paradoxes, we’re dealing with complexity and we are dealing with uncertainty.’

Mrs Pritchard told the King’s Fund annual conference in central London she did not think patients always got the care they deserved.

‘It’s the question that’s most likely to keep you up at night, it’s most likely to motivate you in the morning.

‘Are our patients getting the standard of care they deserve? We know we can’t always answer yes to that question. We know we’ve got a job to do….’

The NHS waiting list for routine operations has breached 7million for the first time ever. This includes almost 390,000 patients who’ve been forced to wait over a year for treatment

Ambulances took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds to respond to category two calls , such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is more than twice as long as the 18 minute target

A&E waits have also breached a record, with the number of patients facing 12-hour waits exceeding 30,000 

WHAT DOES THE LATEST NHS PERFORMANCE DATA SHOW? 

More than 7million people in England were waiting for routine NHS ops in August such as hip and knee replacements.

Leading experts fear the ‘grim milestone’ — the equivalent of one in eight people — will only get topped as the pressures of winter, Covid and flu kick in.

The backlog is up from 6.8million one month earlier and marks the highest total since NHS records began in 2007. Almost 390,000 patients have been forced to endure year-long waits for their treatment, often while in serious pain. 

Separate analysis suggests the NHS is carrying out fewer operations and treatments than before the pandemic, despite pledges to shrink the ever-growing list.

Last month, the care regulator said the health and care system had become ‘gridlocked’ — with just two in five patients able to leave hospital when fit to do so due to delays arranging a care home place or home help.

The crisis has fuelled ambulance delays, with heart attack and stroke patients waiting almost tan hour for a response, and vehicles stuck queuing outside A&E departments waiting to offload patients.

Mrs Pritchard told the conference the NHS, given £150billion-a-year, had already found efficiency savings worth billions of pounds. However, there is still a gap of around £7billion.

Finance chiefs have warned that vital cancer, mental health and GP services face being axed unless the Treasury stumps up the cash.

She admitted the NHS was ‘not in a unique position; when it came to battling the effects of inflation, which is five-time greater than officials had accounted for.

But she said: ‘There is no doubt that is a job of work to do to work through the implications of inflation and that is something that we’re in conversation with government about the moment they are aware that NHS budgets will only stretch so far.’

She added: ‘Some of the challenges, stepping up to rising inflation are well-rehearsed in our national discussion.

‘Where we are at the moment is being really clear that nobody is stepping back from the commitments that have been made.

‘So the last spending review, the NHS committed to roughly twice the level of efficiency than we’ve been asked to do previously.

‘So that’s £12billion over a three-year period.

An analysis of NHS data shows the health service is carrying out fewer operations and treatments than the pre-pandemic average

While the NHS performed a record number of cancer checks, the health service continued to fail to hit targets to start treatment for the disease within two months of an urgent referral  

‘Due to some other pressures that we’ve absorbed this year that means we’re actually on track right now for £5.6billion in year.’

Mrs Pritchard last month told colleagues that the situation was a ‘f*****g nightmare’.

The Prime Minister told the Cabinet on Tuesday that health service spending will be prioritised as other departments face cuts.

Mr Sunak and Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, are planning tax rises for millions of households in the Autumn Statement on November 17, alongside spending cuts, in order to address a £50billion black hole in public finances.

According to a Downing Street read-out of the Cabinet meeting, Mr Sunak said the Government ‘would always support the NHS and that they would continue to be prioritised as difficult decisions are taken on spending’.

But the health service, described by campaigners as being a ‘blackhole of taxpayer cash’, will have to overhaul its spending and operate more efficiently in return for having its cash protected, Whitehall insiders claim. 

MPs and campaigners have suggested the NHS should see how it can boost funds itself, rather than demanding more cash. 

A Freedom of Information Request by the Taxpayers’ Alliance today revealed the NHS has millions of pounds worth of art that could be sold off to boost cash levels.

The data revealed that the NHS has 20,000 works of art, worth an estimated £12million. NHS trusts in Fife (2,044 pieces), the Isle of Wight (1,992) and Cambridge (1,573) hold the biggest collections.

It is unclear which artwork trusts own but many pieces were donated for the benefit of patients so cannot be sold. 

Sir Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch in Dorset, told The Telegraph that the NHS should ‘look at where they can make savings’ rather than ‘looking at their works of art’.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said ‘hospitals are turning into mini art galleries’.

Meanwhile, a cap on social care costs, announced by Boris Johnson last September, is expected to be delayed until after the next election as part of public spending cuts. 

Due to come into effect next October, it was going set a £86,000 limit on the people had to spend on social care before local authorities took over their bill. 

But is now expected to be pushed back by at least one year to save £1billion annually.

However, the NHS and social care will still get a £13billion uplift, which was supposed to be funded by a National Insurance rise but is now expected to be supported through other taxes. 

It comes as the crippled health service performance has stooped to record lows in recent months.

NHS hospitals are currently clogged by healthy patients who cannot be discharged due to a lack of social care staff to take over their care. Three in five patients are being kept on wards longer than they need to be.

This so-called bed blocking crisis is fuelling sluggish emergency care, with too few hospital beds available to house sick people turning up at A&E and 999 callers who are stuck in the back of ambulances. 

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