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Cancer care, mental health provision, and waiting times will not improve without extra cash, says NHS boss

PUBLISHED: 11:38 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:10 08 November 2017

NHS England's chief executive Simon Stevens PA: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

NHS England's chief executive Simon Stevens PA: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

One in 10 people in England will be on the NHS waiting list unless the health service is given more money, the head of NHS England has said.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham, Simon Stevens said the waiting list will expand to five million by 2021 without more money for the NHS.

And he added he was bound by the health service’s duty of candour to set out the consequences of what would happen without more funds.

He argued the vote for Brexit was based by many on the promise the health service would receive more money.

He said trust in democracy “will not be strengthened” if chancellor Philip Hammond argues in his budget this month that economic turbulence caused by Brexit means he cannot promise extra cash for the NHS.

It comes as health bosses in our region urged patients to shop around different hospitals for treatment to avoid unnecessarily long waiting times.

NHS figures revealed patients can wait up to 15 weeks longer for the same treatment in different parts of Norfolk and Waveney.

On current levels of funding, Mr Stevens added the NHS will not be able to make improvements in cancer care or mental health.

Improvements in mental health care have been called for in Norfolk and Suffolk after the region’s mental health was plunged into special measures.

The county’s busiest hospital also has ambitions to become a centre for cancer care excellence.

Mr Stevens said: “We have a care fragmentation problem and a funding problem.

“Some may say ‘aren’t we spending at the European average?’ Well only if you think that bungling austerity-shrunken Greek and Portuguese health spending should help shape the benchmark for Britain.

“If instead you think that modern Britain should look more like Germany or France or Sweden then we are underfunding our health services by £20 to £30bn a year.”

He added: “The government has rightly supported the NHS through difficult times, it protected the NHS budget immediately after the financial crash, and funded modest growth ever since.

“But that growth rate is set to nosedive next year and the year after.

“As I have told parliament on many occasions - ‘for the next three years we did not get the funding the NHS had requested. So 2018, which happens to be the 70th anniversary of the NHS, is poised to be the toughest financial year’.”

Julie Cave, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), said demand for mental health services had steadily increased over the last five years.

“Locally, we are starting to see additional funding come into our trust, which is being gladly received,” she said. “This has included for services such as our new Mother and Baby Unit, community perinatal services, and investment into our in our Mental Health Liaison services.

“We are always working to make effective use of our resources and continue to work with our commissioners to look at how to best use resources to benefit local people. And we hope national investment in our core mental health services will follow.”

She said increasing demand put more pressure on services and resources.

“If funding for increased capacity is not available then sadly, and inevitably, waiting lists will increase here and elsewhere,” she said.

“We are working in partnership with our commissioners to collectively manage these issues and to source more funding for local mental health services in any way we can. And we are doing whatever we can to manage our current provision as efficiently as possible.

“We are all doing our very best within a high-pressured health system which has many conflicting demands for all of our resources.”

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