NHS Hot Topics 2017: NHS Funding
Welcome to our new series on NHS Hot Topics 2017! These blogs will cover one recent piece of medical news from this year in detail.
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There are many challenges facing the NHS, from an ageing population to evolving healthcare needs. This blog will focus on a key challenge: NHS funding.
‘Underfunded’ is a word many people use to describe the NHS. The demand for NHS services is increasing year on year, so the problem of “underfunding” is actually caused by the demand growing at a greater rate than the funding, creating new pressures on the NHS.
So what exactly is causing the demand on the NHS to increase so rapidly? There are many factors, including an ageing population, evolving healthcare needs, and medical advancements, which undoubtedly save lots of lives every year, but also push costs up considerably. It is estimated that progress in medical technology costs the NHS at least an extra £10bn a year.
NHS Funding: How can we solve this problem?
So, how can this problem be solved? How can we sufficiently fund the NHS? There’s no easy, simple or right answer to this question, but broadly speaking, there are two ways to do this:
- By increasing the money coming into the system
- Or by decreasing the expenditure
NHS Funding: Increasing Funding
In terms of increasing the funding, this could be done by increasing taxes or perhaps even introducing a separate health tax.
NHS Funding: Decreasing Expenditure
The alternative approach of reducing expenditure can be done in several ways:
- Increasing cost effectiveness by using NICE guidelines which highlight the QALYs (Quality Added Life Years) of treatments to help make more informed decisions about the worth of certain medicines
- Making efficiency savings – for example, encouraging antimicrobial stewardship (a set of coordinated strategies to improve the use of medications, with the goal of enhancing patient health outcomes, reducing resistance to antibiotics, and decreasing unnecessary costs) to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions
- Increasing health education programmes (for example, promoting healthy eating) to reduce pressures on the NHS
What could you be asked in your interview about NHS Funding?
In your interview, you might be asked:
- How could NHS funding be improved?
- What are some of the funding challenges facing the NHS?
- How would you spend x amount of money if you were the Minister of State for Health?
Remember there’s no easy way to solve these issues (otherwise it would have already been solved) so be prepared to openly discuss the potential downsides of every suggestion you make.
Words: Masumah Jannah
Want to get clued up on other hot topics? Read more from our series below: