NHS should be reformed to stop extra billions going to waste, Rishi Sunak warns
The Chancellor raised the issue during a Cabinet meeting as part of a discussion on Covid and the future of social care, according to sources.
Mr Sunak pointed out the Treasury has handed the NHS an extra £5.5billion this winter, with £12.5billion a year due to come on stream from 2023 with the introduction of the health and social care levy.
The Chancellor reportedly stressed in the meeting on Tuesday the importance of ensuring the extra billions are not frittered away by the health service’s giant bureaucracy.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, left, has warned PM Boris Johnson, pictured yesterday outside Number 10, that the NHS will need reform if additional funds promised by government are not squandered
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, pictured, is planning major NHS reform but the details of the changes have not yet been published
Other Cabinet ministers are said to have then chipped in their own concerns that the Government risks getting poor value from the investment unless major reforms are carried out. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng are among those said to have urged the PM to embrace reform.
Ministers fear the growing NHS waiting list could become one of the biggest issues at the next election.
The new levy is designed to cut the queues by boosting capacity by 10 per cent. But the National Audit Office has warned the waiting list of six million could double to 12million in 2025, even with the cash injection.
The Chancellor ‘gave a candid assessment of the dangers of being blind to the NHS’s many shortcomings’, The Spectator magazine reported last night. It added: ‘By the end of the meeting, ministers had heard each other say out loud what they have long been thinking – that the NHS, as it stands, is failing.
‘The Government will soon be pouring almost half of day-to-day public service spending into a system which is falling short of what patients and taxpayers deserve.’
A Treasury source denied the Chancellor had accused the NHS of ‘shortcomings’ or directly criticised the health service. But they acknowledged Mr Sunak believes the huge cash injection must go hand in hand with reform. The source said: ‘The Chancellor believes that as a government, we should be holding ourselves to account in ensuring that we get value for money.
‘We are putting money in to the NHS and we are putting up people’s taxes to do so.’ They added as a result, the Government must make sure it delivers the results that patients and taxpayers deserve.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has already committed to a major reform of the NHS – but the details have yet to be spelled out.
Stairlifts to counter the £2bn cost of falls
Wet rooms and stairlifts will be installed in the homes of elderly people in a bid to reduce the astronomical annual cost of falls, ministers announced yesterday.
More pensioners will be given sensors and personal alarms to enable carers to check remotely whether they are safe, as part of the Government’s ten-year vision for social care.
But last night charities laid into the plans, saying much more funding was needed if the social care system was to meet the needs of the elderly.
A government White Paper said falls cost the NHS more than £2 billion a year, and increasing funding through the Disabled Facilities Grant for grab-rails and stairlifts could help reduce this
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said there was nothing in the plans to suggest ministers had any ‘real strategy’ for dealing with workforce problems, which will be magnified if Covid surged again.
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, said billions more was needed to keep councils afloat.
A government White Paper said falls cost the NHS more than £2 billion a year, and increasing funding through the Disabled Facilities Grant for grab-rails and stairlifts could help reduce this.