The health service faces a £30bn funding gap by 2020, a major NHS England report due to be published next week will reveal.
NHS England director for patients and information Tim Kelsey disclosed the size of the financial shortfall while discussing the importance of the document, The NHS Belongs to Us All, which is expected to make the case for significant service change.
Mr Kelsey told an audience of technology entrepreneurs: “We are about to run out of cash in a very serious fashion.
“Next week NHS England will be publishing a call to action. The financial context is, and our analysis will disclose, that by 2020 there will be a £30bn funding gap in the healthcare system.”
Later, speaking to HSJ, he added: “NHS England is launching a conversation about the future of the health service, as [NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson] announced in his speech at the NHS Confederation annual conference.
“The document will be used to kick-start this conversation. It provides some context for the funding gap and the context about why an urgent conversation is required about the future of the health service.”
Sir David has said the need to get a long term NHS strategy in place would be one his main priorities during his last 10 months at the helm of NHS England.
Mr Kelsey was speaking at the NHS England entrepreneurs day, organised in partnership with the Cambridge Health Network.
He also revealed that the UK and US governments are currently working on an agreed common standard of certification for health companies to make it easier for them to access both markets.
“One of the things that we agreed with the US government which will be hopefully signing at the G8 meeting in November is that we want to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to get access to both the US and the UK market places,” Mr Kelsey said.
“To do that we want to have some common standards. We will be working on a standard of certification so that you can be in the digital hospital market place or the apps market place and you only need to sign up to one certification scheme.”