The political parties are falling over themselves to say they will protect the health service budgets. But is this true? (http://www.hsj.co.uk/news/finance/andy-burnham-makes-no-promises-over-nhs-cuts/5006740.article)
Department of Health (DH) has asked SHAs and PCTs to identify £20bn of savings.
Lets examine £20bn. This is an enormous amount of money! It means a colossal shift from inpatient to outpatient, from hospital to community. It means real cuts in staff numbers. It means real cuts in the drugs budget, when UK already knows it has some of the cheapest medicines (as GPs and hospitals start selling them abroad to make a quick buck). Without massive involvement from GPs to change their referral patterns (and we've banked on this happening so many times before and failed to engage, what's different this time?), it means cuts in the quality of care. Could this be the push that will drive people from Care Free at the Point of Need to Basic Care Free, pay for everything else you use? I hope not, but then the rising cost of health and social care for an ageing society may simply not be a vote winner.