The Department of Health’s system for funding the NHS focuses too much on short-term survival and limits its ability to transform services to achieve sustainability in the long term, says the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
Despite a rescue fund worth £1.8 billion in 2016–17, the financial position of the NHS remains in a perilous state, says the PAC in its report, Sustainability and Transformation in the NHS, published last month.
It criticises NHS England for being ‘too focused on propping up the system and balancing the books in the short term and not paying enough attention on transforming and improving patient services in the long term’.
The PAC says that, despite earlier warnings, the Department has not yet assessed the impact on patients or services of repeatedly raiding its capital budget to fund the short term needs of the NHS.
Staff shortages across the NHS are having a serious and negative impact on both the sustainability and transformation of services, says the PAC, and it asks the DHSC to report on what actions it is taking to tackle workforce issues.