The coalition’s NHS: what do the stats say?

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 19.09.46With the UK election nearly upon us I was curious to see some of the stats in this King’s Fund report on the NHS under the coalition government.

The main figures I was interested in backed up my personal experience of working in the NHS since I began in 2005: namely that there has been much less funding available in the last five years than in the five years before. Whilst on the ground this is seen in job cuts, salary freezes and service pressures, the report breaks down the actual funding, employment stats, and patient and staff experiences.

Some of the key points:

  • NHS funding has increased in real terms over the term of parliament, but by a very small amount: between 0.6 and 0.9 per cent.
  • To see just how small this is, we can compare it to the growth between 1996/7 and 2009/10, which was 5.6 per cent, or to the average annual growth since 1950, which has been 4%.
  • The funding has been much less than the estimated 3 to 4 per cent real growth that we needed to cope with the costs of increased health care demand and new technologies.
  • Numbers of bank and agency nursing staff have dramatically increased recently. Between 2012 and 2015, total numbers of hours requested by acute trusts for agency and bank staff more than doubled. Why? From 2009 to 2013 there was a dip in nurses employed, followed by a recent upturn (post 2013, and after several major inquiries into quality of care in the NHS). The recent increase in nursing demand has been difficult to recruit to, and has largely had to be filled by bank and agency staff. This means more chance of being cared for by a nurse who does not usually work in the ward where you are being treated.
  • The number of NHS staff reporting that they feel unwell due to work-related stress has increased from 9 per cent to 38 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

The report ends “…even in the toughest of times financially there are always choices that can be made. Now, as the economy recovers, if the NHS is to play its part in ensuring that each health care pound is used as effectively as possible… there needs to be a matching commitment on the part of the public and future governments… in ensuring that the right level of funding is made available.”

Worth bearing in mind on Thursday as we make our choice.

This blog is my personal opinion, not that of any of the organisations I work for. 

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