NHS England chief praises Jeremy Hunt's call for 10-year funding deal


The chief executive of NHS England has welcomed Jeremy Hunt's call for a 10-year funding deal for the health service.

Simon Stevens, giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, said the commitment would enable the NHS to make "smarter, long-term decisions" and improve efficiency.

The Health and Social Care Secretary said on Sunday it was premature to speculate that a £4 billion-a-year boost will be announced, amid reports the Government could back a ring-fenced tax rise to generate funds.

But he said a long-term deal would allow proper planning to train the staff needed to cope with the challenges of Britain's ageing population.

Responding to the reports, Mr Stevens told the committee: "I welcome the notion of a viable 10-year clear funding commitment that would enable the NHS to plan the workforce, to set out the clear improvements for cancer services, mental health services, new technology and innovation.

"Obviously whether that and when that happens is a matter for parliament and for Government but were this to happen I think the NHS would greatly welcome it."

Mr Stevens said the NHS had experienced "feast and famine" for much of the post-war period.

He added: "I think the argument for a five or 10-year funding settlement, as advocated by the Health Secretary, is that with more predictability, it would be possible to make smarter, long-term decisions about workforce, about care improvement and probably to be more efficient on the back of that."

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a full departmental spending review will take place next year, but Mr Hunt argued that health should be treated differently with a longer-than-usual 10-year settlement.

Mr Hunt acknowledged "that isn't government policy", but told ITV's Peston On Sunday "given that it takes seven years to train a doctor and three years to train a nurse, you need to have something that gives you the ability to look ahead".