Autumn Budget provides NHS with much-needed winter cash boost
The Autumn Budget was announced and one of the few major announcements that had not been leaked prior to the event was a substantial cash injection to the NHS. Philp Hammond, the chancellor of exchequer, announced that the NHS would receive an additional commitment of £2.8 billion of resource funding, with £350 million of this made immediately available to help trusts prepare for the winter.
A boost in financing will be much welcome for the service that is struggling with a raft of issues, including a lack of resources to run efficiently and an inability to recruit effectively post-Brexit. This led to the unprecedented step of Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, taking a hard-line at NHS Provider’s annual conference to demand more money be provided to the service.
In the speech, he openly contradicted Jeremy Hunt’s claims that spending at the European average should be sufficient: “Some may say, ‘Aren’t we spending at the European average?’ Well, only if you think that bundling austerity-shrunken Greek and Portuguese health spending should help shape the benchmark for Britain. If instead you think that modern Britain should look more like Germany or France or Sweden then we are under-funding our health services by £20 billion to £30 billion a year.”
Stevens’ decision to use his public position to place pressure on government to provide more funding appears to have worked, with many coming out praising the increase in budget for the NHS. Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, provided tempered remarks welcoming the extra funding:
“The NHS has been given £1.6 billion extra revenue for 2018/19 that has been brought forward; £3.5 billion extra capital funded by the treasury; and the government has committed to fund the main NHS pay rise. In addition, the government has committed extra capital and extra revenue for this year, though this has come very late to be used with maximum impact for this winter.”
He continued, “Overall this new funding is less than the NHS needed but more than was expected. But, as always, NHS trusts will do their absolute best to provide the highest quality care for patients within the funding settlement that’s been allocated.”
The reference to the winter budget increase coming late arrives after individuals had claimed that more money had been needed after the crisis that struck last winter. Many working with the NHS had said long-term planning had begun far earlier this year but that extra money was needed to provide the services expected, due to the increase in workload expected over the colder months.
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