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Tuesday, 4th December 2012

UK: A decade of austerity? The funding pressures facing the NHS from 2010/11 to 2021/22

Source: Nuffield Trust (UK)

From Executive Summary:

Spending on the UK NHS as a share of national income has more than doubled since its introduction in 1948, rising by an average of four per cent a year in real terms. This period of rapid growth has now come to a halt, but funding pressures on the NHS continue to rise. The NHS in England is targeting efficiency savings of £15 to £20 billion by 2014/15 to meet this challenge, and it is likely that austerity will be required beyond this period. But where are the pressures likely to come from and how can the shortfall in funding be met? This report aims to address these questions by quantifying the financial pressures facing the NHS in England over the next decade to 2021/22. It forms part of a Nuffield Trust research programme that is exploring the potential funding gap facing the NHS in England over the next decade and how this can be addressed.

After 2014/15, to avoid cuts to the service or a fall in the quality of care patients receive, the NHS in England must either achieve unprecedented sustained increases in productivity, or funding will need to increase in real terms.

Pressures on the NHS are projected to grow at around four per cent a year up to 2021/22. These arise from growing demand for health care to meet the needs of a population which is ageing, growing in size, and experiencing more chronic disease. They also result from increases in the cost of providing health care – of which the largest item is workforce pay.

If NHS funding is held flat in real terms beyond this spending review period, the NHS in England could experience a funding gap worth between £44 and £54 billion in 2021/22, unless offsetting productivity gains can be delivered.

+ Direct link to Report (PDF; 483 KB)

+ Research Summary (PDF; 317 KB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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