The NHS Long Term Plan will be jeopardised unless more funding is made available for social care and public health, a new briefing by the Health Foundation and NHS Confederation has warned.
Funding cuts to social care and public health are undermining pioneering new service models designed to keep people well and out of hospital, and nine in 10 leaders are not confident the NHS will be able to deliver the reforms set out in the plan without a long-term financial settlement for social care.
The briefing also notes that the NHS Long Term Plan has been developed with the expectation of a sustainable settlement for social care and action to prevent ill health.
But with no action on funding, the money available for adult social care will rise at an annual average rate of 1.4% a year – much lower than the 3.4% a year the government has committed to the NHS, the report said.
The Health Foundation has previously warned that, if this continues, there will be a social care funding gap of £4.4bn in England in 2023/24 just to meet rising demand and address critical staffing shortages in the sector.
Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive at the Health Foundation said policymakers need to face the fact that there is “urgent unfinished business” if the NHS is to deliver its vision to improve patient care.
“There are mounting workforce shortages, the social care system is starved of funding, capital investment is going backwards, and public health funds cut. This all piles demand on the NHS and risks swallowing up the extra money and leaving far less to modernise care, reduce waiting times, and prevent illness in the first place.
“The new government needs to honour last year’s promises to set out long-term funding for public health, capital investment, workforce training and social care, and ensure they receive sufficient funding to support the long term plan ambitions.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of NHS Confederation said: “As our survey shows, NHS leaders are optimistic about the future and want to deliver the vision for more care in the community, backed by technology and new ways of working.
“But they also have serious concerns. They face crippling staff vacancies, rising demand for care, lack of investment in buildings and equipment, and the drastic cuts to social care and public health that are fuelling extra demand on A&E and other front-line NHS services.
“Failure to address this in the next spending review will put the ambitions of the NHS plan in jeopardy.”