Patients come first before ringfenced funding, says Liam Fox

2 January 2014

Patients come first before ringfenced funding, says Liam Fox

Senior Tory argues that ‘wasteful’ NHS does not deserve ringfenced funding and requires a more patient safety focused approach instead.

Senior Tory, Liam Fox, has said that NHS ringfenced funding should be stopped altogether after the next election with the argument that the performance of the health service does not justify it. Rather, a more outcome focused approached should be taken towards patient care and specific areas where targets are being missed.

Fox believes the quality of patient service in such areas has been compromised by the belief that putting more and more money into areas has improved the performance of overall patient safety and departmental care. He argues that it has in fact simply ‘tested to destruction’ the theory that more money can result in an improvement in standards; when it has not addressed the underlying standards of care in departments which continue to miss outcome targets.

According to Liam Fox, the belief that placing more and more funds into the NHS would lead to improved standards was one which had been ‘tested to destruction’ and was not improving key areas, such as cancer outcomes, which were lagging behind the performance of other countries.

Fox, the former defence secretary, maintained that David Cameron should increase funding in real terms but suggested that the PM discount such a pledge in the next Conservative manifesto.

Speaking to the Times newspaper, Fox opined:

"I think we've tested to destruction the idea that simply throwing lots more money at the health service will make it better.

"The increase over the last decade has been phenomenal and yet a lot of our health indicators lag behind other countries, particular things like stroke outcome or a lot of cancer outcomes.

"We've become obsessed with throughput and not outcomes and that has been hugely to the detriment of the patients in our system.

"If you treat the National Health Service itself as being the important entity, and not the patients, then you're on a hiding to nothing."

At the same time Fox has echoed the concern of many Tory backbenchers in the belief that a number of budgets, such as overseas aid, have been ringfenced with other government areas having been detrimentally impacted by cuts.

Fox further argued in his interview with the Times that budgets required less distortion and a more patient centric method of funding, so as to avoid the risk of wastage to the NHS.

Fox added: "Ringfencing anything, any budget within a diminishing total, leads to bigger and bigger distortions.

"They become, by definition, bigger and bigger proportions of the spending total … It also has a restricting ability inside government to move money around when there is a particular problem.

"Anybody who has worked with or around the NHS knows there is still a huge amount of waste associated with it."

Do you agree with Liam Fox? would like your views on whether patient standards are compromised by excess funding as Mr Fox has suggested. If you believe the outcomes of certain areas at specific hospitals has been affected and you have experience of this, is able to provide you with relevant advice, guidance and support so that you know exactly what your patient safety rights are and where you stand. has a number of specialist teams who can support and advise you so that you know how to seek redress and raise issues regarding the care you or a loved one has received at a NHS trust or hospital.