NHS ‘most efficient’ with public funding

Public funding of the NHS will make it more efficient than with private investment, the IPPR thinktank has claimed.

Its report calls for public funding to finance the health services in the future.

The IPPR study argues that the private sector plays a valuable role in the health service but concludes that attempts to meet financial needs from private sources are unlikely to make the health service more efficient.

The study comes amid debate about the future of the NHS and what role the private sector can play.

Last year a report on the NHS recommended that private providers could put resources into GP practices to increase primary care provision.

The IPPR report claims that publicly-funded healthcare systems deliver best value and argues that governments who have tried to shift costs from the public to private purse rarely save, and sometimes increase, costs.

In France, for example, its system of high charges for services like seeing a doctor or outpatient treatment has not controlled rising costs.

The report calls for public funding for the NHS to continue increasing to reflect public preferences for improved levels of healthcare.

It says that the NHS will need to respond to steep cost rises over the coming decades as people live longer and expect more; technological developments raise demand; and the cost of employing doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff increases.

Based on forward projections made by the Wanless report, the IPPR claims that Britain will need to spend an additional £6 billion to £16 billion by 2012.

It says that the NHS 60th anniversary provides an opportunity to win a renewed cross-party commitment to guarantee the future of Britain’s healthcare from public funding.

IPPR director Lisa Harker said: “We can’t afford not to fund the NHS publicly.

“Individuals’ and businesses’ willingness to invest their own money in their future health is a positive thing and we should examine the ways that the NHS can benefit from this, but private healthcare is not the solution to the long-term funding of the NHS.

“The NHS’ future and the public’s health needs can only be met efficiently by future governments raising increased resources for healthcare collectively.”