NHS faces £10bn funding gap by 2014-15, government advisers warn

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 31 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7453
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Doubts about the ability of the NHS to combine reform and cost saving have been laid bare by the publication of a letter warning of a possible £10bn (€11.6bn; $15.5bn) funding gap.

The letter was sent to Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, by the Independent Challenge Group, a 39 strong committee set up in June and comprising leading civil servants plus a few external experts. It was charged with bringing an independent view to the spending review process.

Its sceptical view of NHS reform was written in September, but emerged only this week, in a leak in the Guardian. Among the members of the group is Richard Douglas, finance and chief operating officer of the Department of Health.

The group’s central warning is that the NHS is likely to face “an unpalatable trade off” between a massive increase in NHS funding and a cut in services leading to longer waiting lists.

The arithmetic outlined in the letter is that …

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