Underspending in the UK’s National Health Service throughout the 1980s and 90s has been “grossly underestimated,” according to a new report from the NHS Confederation. Of further concern is that - as a result - a high proportion of the extra funding assigned to improving the NHS has actually been spent compensating for previous funding shortfalls.

Dr Gill Morgan, Chief Executive of the NHS, said: “The barrage of criticism that the NHS is often subjected to is misplaced – suggestions tat the NHS has failed to increase productivity and use the new investment effectively are unfair. Much of the new funding is being spent on new buildings, rising costs of drugs and technology, [and] more and better paid staff.” In fact, fifty per cent of the new investment was spent recruiting more staff and paying higher salaries.

In total, 73% of the almost £6 billion pounds in additional funding was spent on correcting the legacy of underspending. Added Dr Morgan: “The results of this investment in staff may not be obvious straight away, but we believe that over time the benefits will become clear. To say that this investment is not delivering better patient care is false.”