The credit crunch could have a serious impact on the nation's health, medical experts have warned.
John Appleby, chief economist of thinktank the King's Fund, said at best the NHS can expect funding to keep pace with inflation from 2011.
He wrote in the British Medical Journal: "NHS spending is guaranteed up to April 2011, what happens after then looks decidedly less rosy. The health service will almost certainly have to plan for lower growth in funding from 2011 onwards."
He predicts with reduced tax revenue and increasing government spending, the best the NHS can hope to expect is no real growth in funding from 2011 to 2014.
And he warned that an economic downturn could have a serious impact on the nation's health.
Mr Appleby said: "The combined effect of the credit crunch and recession on the population's health and wellbeing will increase ill health and demand on healthcare services.
"The link between deprivation, income, housing, unemployment, and healthcare needs is well documented."
The economist says that the impact of the credit crunch can already be seen in the private sector and on foundation trusts, which are the top tier of NHS hospitals.
Copyright © PA Business 2008
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