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NHS 'needs huge cash injection to avoid crash'

By David Hughes

The NHS faces a "make or break" financial crisis within two years unless the Government orders an immediate multi-billion pound cash injection, a former health minister has claimed.

In a bleak assessment, Norman Lamb, a key figure in the Department of Health during the coalition era as Liberal Democrat care services minister, suggests that the NHS is on course for a "crash".

Pre-election promises by the Tories to provide an additional £8bn for the health service by 2020, on top of £2bn extra pledged at the end of last year, will not be enough, he told the Observer.

Suggesting that the promised money needed to enter the system before 2020, he said: "If the investment is not made upfront and in the early period of this parliament, you could see serious failures in the system."

He said: "The system will crash. Elderly people won't get the care they need, and it will be people with mental ill-health who suffer most, because that is where the squeeze always comes."

Mr Lamb questioned the amount of money pledged.

He said: "I don't think anyone in the NHS believes that is enough. The Government talks very vaguely about an extra £8bn by 2020, but it is needed now.

"If it comes in 2019-20, the system will have crashed by then. I think the next two years will make or break the NHS and the care system."

Mr Lamb's comments come after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs last week "the financial pressures on the NHS are the worst in its history".

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are investing the additional £8bn that the NHS itself has said it needs to implement its own plan for the future."

Belfast Telegraph


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