In pointed remarks made on Friday and aimed at the health secretary, Simon Stevens said people should not “rewrite history” on the exact sums the NHS in England will need by 2020. Hunt has repeatedly stressed that the government has pledged to boost the NHS budget by £8bn over that period because that is the amount set out in a blueprint unveiled in 2014 called the NHS Five Year Forward View, which Hunt, David Cameron and George Osborne now call “the Stevens plan”.
In a major speech on Friday to NHS leaders, Stevens reminded Hunt that the document said the health service would need £8bn-£21bn by 2020, and would only cope with the smaller amount if major progress was made on improving #social care, public health and how NHS care was delivered.
Social care has deteriorated since the blueprint was published and will continue to do so for the next three years, he said. Organisations such as the Local Government Association, Age UK and the NHS Confederation – whose annual conference Stevens was addressing – have all said that the unmet need for social care, caused by Whitehall cuts to local council budgets, will continue to increase already heavy demand for NHS services, particularly A&E care and GP appointments. Patients are also having to stay longer in hospital than they should, despite being medically fit to leave.
Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, laid out what he called “a few home truths” about health service funding to an audience of 1,000 NHS senior managers. “Let’s not rewrite history. In the Forward View we actually said that the NHS would need between £8bn and £21bn by 2020 in order to sustain and improve,” he said.
The boss of the NHS has told Jeremy Hunt that the health service may need closer to £21bn extra over the next few years, far more than the £8bn ministers have promised.