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In an op-ed, Reform’s Director Andrew Haldenby said: “The battle for the future of the NHS is well under way. And as the general election approaches, two visions for the service are competing for popular and political support.
Both sides recognise that the NHS is under great pressure and that something has to give. The population that it serves is ageing and growing. There will be up to four million more people in England by the end of the decade. The urgency of the new challenges it faces, such as Britain’s poor treatment of mental health, is becoming better understood. Senior figures within the health service believe that the gap between its responsibilities and its budget could amount to £30 billion a year by the end of the decade (compared with its annual budget of around £110 billion).
Yet the two visions differ radically on how to meet this challenge. The first recognises that the service needs reform more than it needs extra money. Unlike Ed Miliband, it remembers the deficit, and it wants the NHS to improve within a budget that the country can afford.
The other vision prioritises extra money above all. And in terms of the health service’s structure, it is determined to maintain the status quo, regardless of the impact on other public services, or on the public finances.”