A new report into trends in health and disease has been called a ‘wake-up call’ by the group behind it.
Speaking on the publication of the Securing The Future: Funding health and social care to the 2030s report – commissioned with the Health Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies - Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: "This report is a wake-up call. And its message is simple - if we want good, effective and safe services, we will have to find the resources to pay for them.
“The scale of what we face is not widely understood. Over the next 15 years in the UK, there will be four million more people over 65 and the prospect of a 40 per cent increase in hospital admissions and further large increases in the number of people with numerous long-term conditions.
“It is now undeniable that the current system and funding levels are not sustainable. Without new ways of delivering services and sustained investment, NHS and care services will not cope, and we will face a decade of misery in which the old, the sick and the vulnerable will be let down.
“The findings suggest that even with modest real terms increases every year we could still be doing little more than managing decline. Such is the challenge of an ageing population with more people living with chronic conditions.
“It is time for honesty and a wider public debate about what sort of services we want and how much they will cost. The Prime Minister and the Health Secretary deserve great credit for recognising that we need a significant and a longer-term settlement and that both health and care need to be tackled.
“The report suggests this can be paid for through additional taxation. But we hope the Government will not rush into decisions or promises without consulting those who work in and use these services.
“The danger is that quick centrally imposed solutions will fail to address the enormity of the challenge and the need to secure widespread support. Instead we need to develop a new compact or agreement between government, the NHS and its staff, and the public.
“It should be agreed following a national conversation with a clear investment and workforce strategy, alongside commitments from the NHS and care services about what will be delivered in return.
“There is a growing realisation across the political parties that something needs to be done. This should not be a counsel of despair - we have perhaps the fairest healthcare system in the world, a world beating life sciences industry and a public that says it is prepared to pay more in taxes in return for better services. It is the major social issue that confronts us, but it is solvable."