NHS continues to make news

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The NHS continues to make the news, particularly with winter likely to bring pressures.

Whenever I speak to the Clinical Commissioning group or the local hospital trust there is real concern about funding.

Why, for example, if spending is increasing, are hospitals facing real term cuts, unless, as I suspect, the treasury is giving with one hand but clawing back with the other?

There was, however, a rare coming together of the frontbenches last week when the NHS chief executive Simon Stevens published the NHS Five Year Forward Review.

There was some agreement that in future two out of every three pounds will be spent at a local level on services provided by or commissioned by GPs. There’s also agreement that lives will be saved if there are specialist trauma and critical care centres like the one soon to open at Cramlington.

But there’s much less agreement about how much of healthcare will be provided by the private sector or about how the increasing bill for an ageing population will be met, especially since only so much can come from savings.

You can also expect rows and promises about waiting times, which after all is what really matters to people. I think the seven day cancer pledge is particularly significant, setting a target of no more than a week for tests and results, with the increased cost paid through a levy on tobacco firms.