NHS could lose funding by underspending budget, ex-DH chief warns


The NHS is at great risk of losing significant amounts of additional funding growth because of the time it will take to address its workforce shortages, according to an ex Department of Health senior official.

Speaking to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), Richard Murray, a former finance director at the Department of Health, believes there is a real chance of the NHS failing to spend its funding allocations over the next five years.

He told HSJ that any departmental budgets that remain unspent at the end of a financial year are returned to the treasury.

Mr Murray is the current chief executive of The King’s Fund, and said the continuing lack of a comprehensive workforce strategy will limit the NHS’ ability to spend its allocations and hamper the success of the recently published long-term plan.

He told HSJ: “I just wish they sorted out [the] workforce element. That’s where a lot of services are going to find themselves tripping over, because there just aren’t the staff to do the things that they want to do.

“It seems almost inconceivable from where we are at the moment. But, this time next year, you wonder whether we’ll be looking at an NHS underspend because there just [aren’t] the staff to spend money on.”

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