NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation appeal for £10 billion of extra funding to support the health service to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors meeting technology data

Two organisations representing the NHS frontline have issued an urgent appeal for emergency funding to support the health service to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation have estimated that around £10 billion of extra funding will be needed over the next 12 months to help cover extra costs generated by COVID-19 and to clear a backlog of treatment in England.

The appeal came as the Government finalised details of its comprehensive spending review, which could come as early as next week, according to some media reports.

The DHSC said that it had made substantial amounts of extra money available to help the health service recover after the pandemic.

Counting the cost of the pandemic 

The two health bodies made their appeal for more funding in a report, A reckoning: the continuing cost of COVID-19, published on 2 September 2021.

It calculated the additional costs needed as:

  • between £4 and £5 billion to cover extra costs driven by COVID-19

  • between £3.5 and £4.5 billion to tackle treatment backlogs, spread over 3 years

  • the shortfall in funding for NHS trusts, which have been unable to make the 1.1% efficiency savings set out in the existing 5-year NHS plan.

The money would have to be additional to previous Government pledges to build 40 new hospitals and reform the social care system, as well as including central funding for COVID-19 vaccinations and the Test and Trace service, the report said.

The briefing was based on survey data from 54% of the provider sector between 18 and 25 August 2021.

Waiting list backlog could take ‘5 to 7, not 2 to 3, years to clear’ 

Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, said: ‘COVID-19 is a once in a generation, global, shock, the seismic impact of which is unlike anything the service has experienced in its 73-year history.

‘The Government has said that we must learn to “live with COVID’’. That means they must fully recognise the extent, length and cost of the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS.’

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Trust leaders are worried that anything short of £10 billion next year will force them to cut services.

‘They are worried that, despite best efforts at the frontline, the 13 million waiting list they are desperate to avoid will become inevitable. And this backlog will take 5 to 7, not 2 to 3, years to clear.’

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the DHSC said that it was ‘committed to making sure the NHS has everything it needs to continue providing excellent care to the public as we tackle the backlogs that have built up during the pandemic’.

During the current financial year, the Government has provided ‘a further £29 billion to support health and care services, including an extra £1 billion to tackle the backlog’, the statement said.

However, the British Medical Association (BMA) described the cash injection as ‘woefully inadequate’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Council Chair, said: ‘The BMA has calculated that it will cost at least £4.9 billion to tackle the non-COVID care backlog; £6.5 billion capital funding to cover overdue maintenance costs; at least £4.2 billion capital funding for wholesale digital transformation; and £1 billion capital funding for GP premises in order for the health service to get through COVID-19 and ensure that it can meet future demands.

‘The Government has a moral duty to commit to giving the NHS “whatever it needs” as per the Chancellor’s own words.

‘Failing to provide adequate resources will result in more patients suffering, their health deteriorating, and in many cases not surviving.’

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.