Jeremy Hunt asks Tories for help to solve NHS financial woes

Jeremy Hunt has asked Tory MPs for help to solve funding problems in the NHS.

The Health Secretary warned that after the "most challenging" winter for many years there is "no doubt" about the pressures the service is under.

In a letter, Mr Hunt said he has already begun meeting groups of MPs to talk about reforms but appealed for others to come forward with ideas.

In March, Theresa May announced that a long-term financial plan to stop the NHS being hit by funding crises would be put in place this year.

The Prime Minister admitted the health service "can't afford to wait" until the planned review of public spending in 2019 and said the Government needed to get away from annual top-ups of its budget.

Mr Hunt said health and social care must be "properly joined up" and cannot be dealt with in isolation.

He wrote: "As our preparations for this plan continue, and ahead of the NHS's 70th birthday this summer, I would be very grateful to hear the views of colleagues.

"From all the dialogue and debate we have had since I undertook this role in 2012, I know how committed and passionate you are for the future and quality of our NHS, and how much you have to contribute to the government's approach."

Mr Hunt has previously admitted that the NHS endured its "worst ever" winter following "very high levels of demand".

The most severe flu season in seven years, along with high rates of norovirus, meant that 5,000 beds a day were needed to care for people with the illness, according to NHS England.

It advised hospitals to defer non-urgent operations at the height of the crisis to free up beds and hospital staff.

The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations in the healthcare system, called for "courage and leadership" from across the political spectrum to find a solution to the pressures on the system.

Chief executive Niall Dickson said: "We are starting to see signs of movement from Government and politicians more widely on a challenge we have long argued is the most pressing domestic issue of our age.

"This is an opportunity for the Government and politicians on all sides to show courage and leadership.

"The NHS is facing a funding and workforce crisis which means the next decade must be very different from the last.

"Any long-term funding settlement must bring health and care together and move away from short-term cash injections that do not enable transformation."

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