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British Health Care in Need of “Emergency Action”

The former head of Britain’s National Health Service Sir David Nicholson warned Thursday that “emergency action” may be needed to shore up NHS finances. Though the service’s troubles haven’t taken center stage in Britain’s national election, a crisis could be quietly brewing. Here’s the BBC:

In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir David – who ran the NHS in England for eight years – said that because there was an election period, the NHS was unable to publish the latest report on its financial position.

But he said it was “pretty clear in the NHS that there is a substantial financial problem, particularly in the hospital sector” which would become “crystal clear” in the autumn […]

He said the NHS would have to take “emergency action” such as vacancy freezes.

To date, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have both pledged to increase funding by £8 billon by 2020, but Labour hasn’t. And Nicholson says that even the £8 billon depends on NHS’s earning £22 billion through “efficiency savings,” which he skeptically called a “big ask.” Nicholson predicts that, if those savings aren’t earned, Britons could see a “managed decline” of longer wait times, more restrictions on drug availability, and other barriers to access to care. Not a pretty picture.

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