20. June 2012 12:10
Politicians should stop putting electoral interests ahead of helping the NHS meet its £20bn efficiency savings target, Mike Farrar, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation has said.
Mr Farrar warned the NHS could find itself in serious financial difficulty – which would affect standards of patient care – unless cost-cutting measures are taken seriously.
He said there had previously been a “chronic failure” by MPs to make brave decisions and warned the NHS is “like a super-tanker heading for an iceberg”.
The NHS Confed head added that the NHS was “doing well” in meeting the Nicholson Challenge but stronger leadership was required by MPs to ensure long term benefits to the health service.
Structural changes to the NHS outlined in the Health and Social Care Act have been widely criticised. However, Mr Farrar argued that the public needs to back the changes if services are to improve.
“The danger is clearly in view and looming ever larger,” he said. “It is clear that what the NHS desperately needs is public support for planned change to services.
“But politicians have consistently failed over many years at national and local level to put the long-term interests of their population’s health above their short-term electoral interests.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley insisted difficult decisions are not overlooked to maintain public support. “The NHS needs to change to match the needs of a changing population,” he said. “We will not shy away from difficult decisions involved in that.”