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Series of NHS services could be cut due to funding, health officials warn

A number of NHS services could fall victim to a lack of funding and waiting times could increase dramatically unless the health service is provided with more money, officials have warned.

NHS England officials have explained which service will be ring-fenced within the current funding, during a discussion about financial restraints.

Emergency care and improvement plans for general practice, mental health and cancer would be protected.

However, other services could come under scrutiny, such as elective surgery or fertility treatment as discussions take place regarding "what can be expected from the remaining available funds", NHS England board papers suggest.

Accident and emergency has seen rising waiting times. Credit: PA

Sir Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England, told the national body's board meeting that the "tightness of the settlement" would be a "catalyst for change".

"There are going to have to be some tough decisions and trade-offs," he said.

NHS England board papers say: "Our nurses, doctors and other frontline staff routinely 'go the extra mile' for their patients.

"It would however be unfair to set unattainable goals which staff would then be criticised for not meeting.

Medical staff were praised by Sir Malcolm Grant. Credit: PA

"In part this therefore means more scrutiny of unfunded new expectations that are loaded on to the NHS.

"For example, new advisory Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines can only expect to be implemented locally across the NHS if in future they are accompanied by a clear and agreed affordability and workforce assessment at the time they are drawn up.

"Short waits for routine non-urgent elective care matter, and we should do all we can to increase elective activity volumes next year.

"However even with some increased volume, and even assuming this year's unprecedented elective demand management success continues, our current forecast is that - without offsetting reductions in other areas of care - NHS constitution waiting times standards, in the round, will not be fully funded and met next year."

The NHS England board met after the health service was not granted the funds it requested during last week's Budget.

More money was pledged to help getting the NHS "back on track" by the Treasury as waiting lists and A&E targets rise.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the NHS was "under pressure" as he provided resource funding of £2.8bn to the NHS in England.

This includes £350 million to cope with pressures over the coming winter, £1.6 billion in 2018/19 and the rest the year after.

Philip Hammond acknowledged the pressure the NHS are under. Credit: PA