Tax rises will likely be needed to keep the quality of health and social care as it is now while the system contends with the growing demands of an ageing demographic, concludes a report by The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation.
The think tanks have calculated that for the next 15 years NHS funding alone will need to increase by at least 4 percent a year - which equates to around £2,000 per UK household - to meet the needs of an ageing population and an increasing number of younger adults living with disabilities.
Outlay on social care will also need to rise by 3.9 percent a year, it said.
The report, Securing the future: funding health and social care to the 2030s, which was commissioned by the NHS Confederation, concludes that taken together, health and social care spending is likely to need to rise by 2–3 percent of national income, which would “almost certainly require an increase in taxes”.
It also found that over the next 15 years, the English NHS is likely to require 64,000 extra doctors and 171,000 extra nurses, while over half a million more staff will be required for social care.
Niall Dickson, head of the NHS Confederation, said the findings were a “wake-up call”, and that “if we want good, effective and safe services, we have to find the resources to pay for them”.
“It is now undeniable that the current system and levels funding are not sustainable," he said. "Without new ways of delivering services and sustained investment, NHS and care services will not cope and we will face a decade of misery in which the old, the sick and the vulnerable will be let down.
“It is time for honesty and a wider public debate about what sort of services we want and how much they will cost.”
Prime Minister Theresa May touched on the idea of a multi-year settlement and long-term plan for the NHS back in March, but gave no further detail, including whether or not it would include social care.
As such, the NHS Confederation recently launched a petition urging the government to commit to a funding plan for health and social care to 2035, to help address “crippling effects” of rising demand, underfunding and workforce shortages.
The group is hoping that its pubic petition will get enough signatures (at least 100,000) to secure debate of the issue in Parliament, and says the move follows “repeated warnings” that health and social care services are “gradually becoming unsustainable”.
Data released in November last year indicated that the public would support tax rises to fund the NHS. In the YouGov poll, 50 percent of adults backed a one percent rise in National Insurance tax to increase public spend on the NHS, while 27 percent were opposed to the move and 15 percent undecided.