While the extra funding election manifesto commitments are helpful, they actually go no further than restoring NHS funding growth to what it was in the past, according to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers.

Hopson made the comments in a recent NHS Providers blog, where he said that manifestos released by the parties ahead of the general election on 12 December “haven’t offered credible answers to most of the NHS’s biggest challenges”.

He wrote: “It’s been like touch rugby – watching the parties reach for the key issues without anyone really being prepared to go in for the tackle. The fundamental challenge for the NHS during the last ten years been rapidly rising demand for care while the capacity to cope – be it workforce, funding, buildings or equipment – hasn’t kept pace, resulting in a widening gap between what’s needed and what can be delivered for patients.”

Hopson added there is a growing demand/capacity gap in the delays people face in accessing the treatment they need in A&E, for routine operations, for diagnostic tests and cancer treatment.

He wrote: “We see it in the growing numbers of people who are seriously mentally unwell and have to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, for care. And that gap is registering in terms of public satisfaction with the NHS, now at its lowest level in a decade. We need to make up for [a] lost decade of capacity growth and then modernise the way care is provided to ensure it is delivered quickly, seamlessly and closer to home. We must harness the opportunities presented by new technologies and treatments to meet the growing and increasingly complex needs of an ageing population.”

He added: “The NHS has a long-term plan to do this, but we need our politicians to articulate clearly and honestly what it will take to deliver the full vision, recognising the need as well to strengthen social care and public health. That’s where this election debate has, once again, fallen short.”