A patient's health condition doesn't pay attention to whether or not there is a recession. Nor does a patient's health condition react or respond to whether or not there is a national debt crisis or a Budget deficit. In economic terminology, a patient's health condition is an inelastic demand. You will suffer the same symptoms and need the same treatment whether or not the National Health Service is receiving enough funding to
meet your needs.
Patients need to be able to trust their politicians. Our recent Joint Manifesto for Trust, with 29 other patient groups and charities, from the Alzheimer's Society to the Meningitis Research Foundation, called on the political parties to be clear about their plans for health funding, not just for this parliament, but for the next decade. The answer to this question is the single most important thing patients will need to know.
Commentary on the recent spending increases gives the impression that the NHS has been awash with cash. We need to be clear - even with the recent increases, we are still scraping along the bottom of the EU average spend on health. The myth of a generously funded health service needs to be debunked. Debates about how well money is spent and how billions could be saved with multiple efficiencies should not detract from the bottom line: we still have fewer nurses, doctors, hospital beds and access to specialist treatments than many comparable neighbours throughout the western world.
While all three main political parties accept that the NHS is inefficient, none is explaining how it thinks it can make the NHS deliver a world-class
health service without putting forward the same level of funding that other national health services receive.