John Appleby responds to Liberal Democrat NHS funding pledge

Tim Farron promises to increase funding for the NHS and social care and create an independent body to monitor health spending.

Press release

Published: 06/05/2017

Responding to the Liberal Democrats' pledge to increase funding for the NHS and social care, Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust said:

"This pledge sets out a commitment to a much-needed increase in health and social care spending. Evidence suggests that a taxpayer funded, free-at-the-point-of-use health service is sustainable in the long term. But this will need significantly higher increases in the NHS budget than those it has had in recent years - so this proposal to raise extra funds on an ongoing basis, rather than a one off boost, is a good start.

"The proposal specifies that out-of-hospital NHS care and social care will be a priority for investment, but it is not clear what the split is between health and social care. With social care facing its own huge funding gap and an even bigger workforce crunch on the horizon, exactly how this money is spent will be crucial.

"What’s more, hospitals are under pressure like never before, with long waiting lists and high bed occupancy levels. It is therefore likely that this extra money will be needed for a period of double running while new out-of-hospital services are grown and staff shortages filled. This will take time, so politicians should be wary of expecting immediate results."

On the proposal for an independent body to monitor health spending, John Appleby said:

"We have long argued for the need for an independent body to make recommendations to Parliament on the future funding and demand for healthcare, much like the Office for Budget Responsibility currently does.

"It is crucial that the health service can plan for steady funding increases that are in line with what experts recommend, rather than the current regime of feast and famine. So we will look forward to further detail from the Liberal Democrats on the role and remit of this organisation."

Notes to editors

For press queries between 6-7 May contact Leonora Merry 07780 475571.