A health system in the UK faces “potential” shortages of staff, a global financial crisis and the potential to run out of money by 2021, according to a senior consultant.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for a “global health strategy” to tackle a shortage of doctors and nurses and for governments to put money into health systems to “get the system going again”.
The report, written by a senior doctor, outlines what is urgently needed to stabilise the NHS and says the “global financial crisis” is forcing the UK’s NHS to “make difficult choices” to help secure the future.
The RCN’s report, which has been seen by the BBC, says the UK “must be prepared to make difficult choices about how to meet its long-term health needs, with the result that the NHS is not well-equipped to respond”.
The RCNs report says the NHS has “lost track” of the scale of the problem and is “failing to take urgent steps to address the challenges and uncertainty that are facing it”.
The NHS needs to “take urgent steps” to improve its capacity, which means it “must prioritise the delivery of critical health services to the people who need them, rather than spending money on the provision of services that are not necessary to meet those needs”, the report says.
The report is the latest warning from a senior British doctor of the “urgent need” to overhaul the NHS, which is now running out of cash.
Theresa May, the UK prime minister, is to hold a meeting of the G20 group of finance ministers on Monday in which she is expected to say she will seek to improve the NHS’s financial position, with an eye to running out at the end of the year.
The UK’s health service has been hit by the economic crisis, with its hospitals and social care being forced to close.
The NHS has struggled to find staff to fill roles it cannot fill, including nurses, GP’s and dentists.
The Scottish Government has also announced plans to slash spending by more than 10 per cent, leaving the UK with the lowest healthcare funding in the EU, according the RCN.
The government is also facing criticism for having “lack of ambition” and is facing criticism from some health experts over its handling of the crisis.
The “urgency” of a health system is being driven by the need to “keep the NHS going” and that is not “just about funding”, the RCNs study says.
Its authors write that a “national strategy” is needed to “stabilise the UK and its public finances and achieve long-lasting long-run health outcomes”.
“This must be coupled with a strategy to increase access to healthcare, and to deliver social and economic justice for all, with a strong focus on addressing inequality and promoting equity, rather that continuing to run the NHS as a private sector enterprise,” the report said.
“To achieve these goals, a strategic approach needs to be taken that includes a focus on ensuring that the UK continues to have a strong, effective and responsive health service and health system for people and the wider public, while recognising that this is not enough.”
The RCNN said it would be “very interesting” to see the UK Government and health service chiefs “explore and respond to the RCNN’s recommendations”, as well as the government’s own proposals.
Dr Sarah Tarlton, a health and social services expert at the RCNP, said the UK needs a “strategic vision” to ensure the NHS “is able to sustain itself and grow in the years to come”.
The UK has “no money” and “no plan” to solve the NHS crisis, she said.
The Queen, who is currently spending the summer in Ireland, will also be visiting the UK on Tuesday to “continue her engagement with NHS patients and families”, according to the Queen.
“We need a strong NHS, and a strong public health system.
We are very excited to see Queen Elizabeth and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visiting the United Kingdom for the first time,” the Queen’s spokesperson said.