Sir David Nicholson, the outgoing boss of the health service, has warned that the NHS will require billions of pounds in extra funding to help it make it through the changes during the next parliament.
He stated that regardless of who formed the next government, the NHS would need extra funding to allow it to survive. He said that the NHS would not survive if it remained in the current budget cut system after 2015.
The funds are required to allow the NHS to rationalise its current hospital services. The department would have to get rid of its outdated hospital-based treatment systems and switch to a more modern form of community based care.
Although David Nicholson was not prepared to stipulate an amount required to keep the NHS afloat, a senior NHS leader suggested that the amount could be as high as £5 billion additional funds for a few years.
New focus has been placed on the NHS budgets by ministers who are looking at tight public finances for the next few years. The review of funding will have to assess the future increase in the demand for healthcare and how much that will cost the NHS.
Sir Nicholson further stated that there would have to be a huge centralisation drive for hospital services. General practitioners will have to forgo their intermediate role to the NHS. A large section of hospital care should be available in community settings if the NHS wants to be prepared to cope with the aging population and the rise in the number of people requiring treatment for long-term medical conditions.
He said that in future there would be no need for more than 40 to 70 major A&E centres. The number of specialised service organisations would have to drop to around 15 to 30, from 300. He was not prepared to name a figure on the total number of general practitioners that would be needed in this streamlined organisation.
He confirmed that the changes that are needed, although vital, would be unprecedented and difficult for both the public and the staff to accept.
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