By far the most frequent question we get asked is why does the Hospital need a charity like Brighter Futures, and why can't the NHS budget simply fund everything the Hospital wants to do?
How is the NHS funded?
The NHS is funded mainly from general taxation and National Insurance contributions. Some funding is generated by user charges such as charges for prescriptions and dental treatment however these charges account for only a small proportion of NHS income. The level of NHS funding in a given year is set by central government through the Spending Review process.
Demand is increasing
The biggest users of the NHS are older people. The average 85-year-old costs the NHS around eight times more compared to the average 25-30-year-old. The British population is not only growing – up 12 per cent over the next 20 years – but getting older too; the number of people aged over 75 will be 73 per cent higher by 2036. We need to spend more just to keep pace with demographic change. As well as this the NHS buys a very select group of goods and services – syringes, drugs, doctors, MRI scanners. Historically, the prices of these things have tended to rise faster than broader measures of inflation.
The difference it makes
The NHS doesn’t just produce hip operations and blood tests. Its outputs have knock-on effects, which ultimately can be measured in terms of a healthier workforce, with fewer absences due to sickness. The NHS doesn’t just alleviate disease but also improves the economic wellbeing of the country.
Poll after poll of the public’s views about the NHS invariably rank it as one of Britain’s most loved and admired institutions. But regardless of how our health care is funded, meeting the rising demand for services and transforming care in response to an ageing population and changing patterns of disease is an issue and budgets are stretched.
The role of NHS charities
NHS charities such as Brighter Futures enable hospitals like the Great Western NHS Foundation Trust to realise patient benefit much sooner by enhancing the environment for patients and staff in which health services can be delivered, enable carers and staff caring for patients to benefit from education and facilities not normally available within the NHS funding and fund extra equipment and staffing to the Trust above the NHS funding envelope.
(Sources:kingsfund.org.uk & nuffieldtrust.org.uk)