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Short-term funding boosts could be the 'new normal' for the NHS

Short-term funding boosts could be the 'new normal' for the NHS

Extra funding for the NHS was used to cope with current pressures, rather than to transform services, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

The NHS received an additional £1.8 billion Sustainability and Transformation Fund in 2016-17 to give it breathing space to set itself up to survive on significantly less funding growth from 2017-18 onwards.

Despite its overall financial position improving, the NHS is struggling to manage increased activity and demand within its budget and has not met NHS access targets.

Furthermore, measures it took to rebalance its finances have restricted money available for longer-term transformation, which is essential for the NHS to meet demand, drive efficiencies and improve the service.

Meg Hillier MP, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said, "The committee has called for a long-term plan for the NHS - the recent winter crisis hammers home why this is so vital," she said. "The Department of Health's recent cash injections have been spent on patching up the problems, not preparing it for the future."

The National Audit Office report warns that "repeated short-term funding boosts could turn into the new normal", even though funding with a long-term plan would be more effective.

Source: National Audit Office

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