Warning over £633m gap in Leeds health funding

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Health and social care in Leeds faces a “monumental” £633m funding shortfall within the next five years, chiefs have warned.

The city’s health economy has a projected resources gap of £64m in 2015/16, according to a report.

But this could spiral to £633m in five years time, unless no action is taken, the document discussed at the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board warns.

Work is already underway to plan how to plug the gap by changing services – but board chairman Coun Lisa Mulherin warned it may not be enough.

“Things are being done, but there’s only so much we can do,” she said.

“Even though we are doing these things, there’s still going to be a monumental gap.”

The figures for Leeds come after a report showed that the NHS would need an extra £8bn by 2020 to solve nationwide funding issues.

The five-year plan said an annual £30bn shortfall would open up, and though some of it could be alleviated by changing the way health services were provided, the NHS would still need above-inflation funding increases.

Yesterday health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that raising NHS spending would be possible, but it would involve “difficult decisions”.

In Leeds, warnings were first issued last year that the city faced an “unprecedented” challenge as a result of cost-cutting, squeezing funding and increasing demands on the health service through a growing aging population.

The new report shows the situation has worsened, saying: “Through an economic modelling approach, a refined calculation of the whole health system financial challenge has been made and this is showing the estimated shortfall in the system as approximately £64.1 million in 15/16, expected to rise to £633 million over five years.”

Plans are already in place to redesign care by preventing hospital admissions, treating more patients in the community and discharging people from hospital more quickly.

Coun Mulherin said Leeds organisations were working well to tackle the issues, but a commitment of investment from the Government to enable changes to community services was needed before resources could be cut from hospital trust budgets.

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