Intended for healthcare professionals


Simon Stevens speaks out over NHS funding

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 14 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5251
  1. Chris Ham, chief executive
  1. King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. C.ham{at}

An unprecedented public intervention that signals the depths of his concerns

A minor earthquake shook the NHS last week. The epicentre of the earthquake was a speech by Simon Stevens, boss of NHS England, at the annual conference of leaders of NHS trusts. Stevens used his speech to outline the consequences for patient care of continuing constraints on NHS funding ahead of the government’s budget on 22 November.

His starting point was that after seven years of unprecedented constraint, “the NHS can no longer do everything that is being asked of it.” With NHS funding increases in 2018-19 set to fall close to zero, he warned of services retrenching and retreating, waiting lists growing, and staffing levels falling. Planned improvements in priority areas of care such as cancer and mental health would not materialise, and the failure to provide additional funding would mean, in his view, turning back a decade of progress. Stevens made clear that the elected government has the responsibility …

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