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Andrew Lansley warns that without urgent reform the NHS will face a serious funding crisis

By Jonathan Isaby
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Lansley.ashx Yesterday afternoon here on ConHome, Enfield North MP Nick de Bois said that it was time to show support for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and stick with the core principles of the reforms he has been proposing, amidst pressure from the Lib Dems.

Today Lansley makes his first intervention in the debate since the end of the listening exercise that has been conducted over the last two months or so.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he reasserts that "doing nothing is not an option" but sets out the stark facts about the rising cost of the NHS, owing to the ageing population, technological advances and the increasing cost of drugs.

He writes:

"These things – the rising costs of drugs and treatments. and a growing and ageing population – paint a compelling picture of why we have to modernise our health service and make it sustainable for the long term. Without change, and despite the Government’s provision of an additional £11.5 billion in funding, the NHS will need £130 billion by 2015 – meaning a potential funding gap of nearly £20 billion a year.

"Fast forward to 2030, and the projections are even starker, with the number of over‑85s set to reach 3.5 million, or 5 per cent of the population. Based on these projections, the NHS would need to perform an extra two million operations.

"Put simply, if things carry on unchanged, this would mean real terms health spending more than doubling to £230billion. That is more than £7,000 a second – twice as much as we are spending today. This is something we simply cannot afford."

He goes on to reaffirm his belief in giving patients more control over their healthcare, devolving power from Whitehall to allow GPs and clinical experts to shape local services, with the majority of the health budget controlled by those who are locally accountable.

Lansley does concede that he is "ready to accept any changes – substantial and significant – if they help us improve care for patients". However, he insists that if the pressures on the NHS are ignored, it will face "a financial crisis within a matter of years that will threaten the very values we hold so dear, of a comprehensive health service, available to all, free at the point of use and based on need and not the ability to pay."

Click here to read the piece in its entirety.

Separately, the Independent reports this morning that Lansley's special adviser, Jenny Jackson, has been "barred from briefing journalists after being caught sending emails that undermined Mr Clegg". Full details here.

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