Coming to America: UK Health Care System Faces 15 Billion Pound Shortfall

Chris Field
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Posted: Jun 10, 2009 8:23 AM
An American friend living in the UK sent this Guardian piece to me this morning. Like so many who have been through government-run health care, he warns that this is where the U.S. is headed.
The health service faces an "unprecedented" 15bn Pound shortfall which is likely to trigger job losses and service reorganisation as it is forced to get to grips with the "most severe contraction in finances it is ever likely to face," NHS leaders will warn tomorrow.

The NHS Confederation, which represents trusts and health authorities as well as independent health providers, calls for "hard decisions" if the NHS is to remain true to its founding principles and provide care free at the point of need over the next few years. ... The NHS Confederation's chief executive, Steve Barnett, will tomorrow challenge the NHS to "prepare itself for real-terms reductions."

He will tell the confederation's annual conference in Liverpool that the NHS must "make hard decisions about which programmes to fund, how to reward staff and how to reorganise services now." ...

The restrictions will start to bite at a time when extra demands will emerge from an ageing population and the "negative health effects of recession in areas such as mental health and alcohol."

The report adds: "Public spending will be dominated by the need to service debt and so NHS and social care spending will not follow renewed growth in the economy." Simple savings programmes used in the past should be avoided, the study urges. Letting waiting lists grow, cutting training or allowing a hospital maintenance backlog to develop will all lead to serious problems.
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