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tories breaking 40 year nhs spending trend despite record waiting lists experts say

Tories breaking 40-year NHS spending trend despite record waiting lists, experts say

Tory spending on the crisis-hit NHS has risen less quickly than planned over the last five years – despite patients facing record waiting lists. Experts warn today spending on the health service has “grown below the long-term average rate” since the Conservative 2019 election victory. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warns ministers are bucking a 40-year trend in which the NHS budget has almost always grown more quickly than originally planned. “This Parliament is the exception,” they say. Its analysis of the Tories’ 2019 manifesto said the party had set out to hike spending on the health service in England by an average of 3.3% each year. But today it says the Government’s latest plans imply growth of just 2.7%. The report says: “The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) budget has grown by less than planned over this Parliament, with cash top-ups insufficient to offset the effects of higher inflation… this is a marked departure from the experience of recent decades.” It adds there are no published plans for NHS spending beyond the current financial year meaning the next government will be forced to rapidly “confront” spending plans. Research economist at the IFS Max Warner said: “Spending on the health service will – absent a big reduction in the role of the NHS, or further deterioration in quality – have to rise in real terms to meet the pressures the service faces and deliver the workforce plan which both the main UK parties have signed up to. “But the sheer size of the health budget means that delivering funding increases at anything like the historical average would require cuts elsewhere, even before accounting for recent promises on defence spending. Neither the Conservative party nor Labour party have been keen to set out spending plans. But the next government will have to confront this reality – and fast.” General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen, said: “When investment in the NHS fails to meet demand, it is patients who suffer greatly – even paying the highest price – and, as nursing staff, we are left to try to pick up the pieces. “You cannot have a productive economy with millions of patients waiting months on end for treatment. And you can’t bring down waiting lists when the NHS is grappling with chronic workforce shortages. This is a timely reminder while parties plan election manifestos that investment in healthcare and the nursing workforce that deliver it is good economics – the PM must waste no time in acting on it.” Lib Dem health and social care spokeswoman Daisy Cooper added: “The Conservative party has left patients and staff to bear the brunt of rising demand, endless waiting lists, and deadly A&E delays. Their neglect of our NHS is unforgivable. Instead of getting patients the care that they deserve and that Conservative MPs promised the public, yet again they have failed to live up to their word. “This Conservative government have proven themselves completely unfit to run our NHS. They are out of touch, out of ideas, and deserve to be kicked out of office.” A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are providing the NHS with record funding of nearly £165 billion a year by the end of this Parliament, an increase of 13% in real terms compared to 2019-20, which is making a real difference in cutting waiting lists. The Chancellor also announced at the Budget that the NHS in England will receive a £2.5 billion day-to-day funding boost this year and a further £3.4 billion investment in the latest technology from 2025, helping to unlock £35 billion in savings.”

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