UK health care spending is set to be slashed by £1.6bn as a result of a coalition government, according to new research.
The Treasury says cuts to NHS staffing and funding are already in place, but NHS funding is set for an increase of around £2bn.
This will have a significant impact on the health service, according the think tank Policy Exchange.
The UK has spent more than £12bn on healthcare over the last two decades, the think-tank says, but it will see the cost of care fall by almost £1bn.
In a report published this week, Policy Exchange said the government will save £1,821 on its healthcare budget over the next four years, or around 6 per cent.
This represents an increase on the previous year’s cut, which was 2 per cent, it said.
In fact, the spending cut for NHS funding would be equivalent to about 6 per 100 people, the research said.
This is a cut of £1 billion a year.
Policy Exchange’s report is based on a survey of more than 4,000 UK people, with a sample size of nearly 4,200.
The survey found that the UK is the only developed nation where people say the government spends too little on healthcare.
Of those surveyed, 70 per cent said the NHS budget is “fairly well spent” while 28 per cent are “not so sure”.
But there is a widespread perception that the NHS is being “bought up” by the private sector, said Caroline Pidgeon from Policy Exchange, who co-authored the report.
The government is now promising that it will “look to bring back the public health system in the future” to help fund its healthcare reforms, she said.
But the health minister, Jeremy Hunt, has said that the government’s “targeting of the NHS to be fully funded by 2020” means that “we’re going to be investing more in the NHS over the coming years than ever before”.
The NHS currently spends more than 2 per 100 on healthcare, according a UK Government Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
In 2020, the OBR expects the NHS spending to be 3 per 100, or 5.6 per cent of GDP.
The budget will increase from £1 trillion to £2.5 trillion by 2020, with more than 3,500 staff working on the NHS.
However, the budget will also be increased by £400 million, with the Department of Health making a commitment to invest £100 million in the health and social care budget each year.
This would mean a total increase of £2 billion a decade.
The OBR said this will help the health system “provide quality care for its patients and patients’ families”.