Following the Prime Minister’s promise of more cash for the NHS, a new report calls for a parliamentary inquiry into how to raise this money now and into the future.
How to Fix the Funding of Health and Social Care says the Government needs to provide an answer to one of the most vexed political questions of our time: how to raise the money needed for health and social care?
The proposed extra money for the NHS – a 3.4% annual increase over the next five years – is significant and will help stem a further decline in standards. But this new spending will be unsustainable unless the Government has a realistic plan for how the money will be raised. The report dismisses the idea of a ‘Brexit dividend’ and argues that unless there is a clear way to raise the additional money it will have to come from cuts to other parts of public expenditure, where there is little low-hanging fruit left to pick.
The report, the result of a project supported by the Health Foundation, concludes that a parliamentary inquiry could help get to the root of this question while building political support for an answer. Even if the proposals were not fully implemented before the next election, the conclusions of a cross-party inquiry could be easily picked up by a future government of any political leaning.
The report says that in order to succeed, a parliamentary inquiry must:
- be set up quickly and report in time to feed into the 2019 spending review.
- include a high-profile, cross-party group of MPs and peers, to win support for its conclusion
- be led by a select committee chair who could continue to champion its recommendations beyond the life of the inquiry.