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Reaction to the Budget and new funds for the NHS: “We must not get carried away”

Nuffield Trust Chief Economist, John Appleby, said:

“Confirmation that the Government will indeed give £20 billion more to NHS England by 2023 will bring a measure of relief to the hard-pressed service. But we must not get carried away.”

“After a financial squeeze of many years, much of this new money will be needed just to get the basics back on track – keeping up with rising need, addressing sliding waiting times and fixing the worrying backlog of buildings needing repair. Our calculations show that after meeting the commitments already made to patients, only £500 million will be free next year for any improvements – less than a tenth of the headline increase [1].”

“Meanwhile, the financial fate of the vital services on which the NHS relies on was once again left hanging today. While more money going into social care will be welcome, it is another short term fix to a system nobody seriously disputes is fundamentally broken. Troublingly, we heard no guarantees today about the budgets for hospital buildings, IT investments, training or public health. We did hear a guarantee of no new PFI deals – but let’s be realistic, there were none on the horizon anyway.

“The uncertainty of Brexit also hangs in the air. This may bring further demands on the health service’s limited room for manoeuvre. The Government believe that a no deal exit would put an £80bn long-term annual hole in the public finances which pay for the NHS. If that happened, austerity might “come to an end”, as the Chancellor said, only to start all over again.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“This should have been a budget for the NHS to celebrate extra money after a decade of austerity, and make no mistake the confirmation of that money is welcome. But let no-one be in any doubt about the challenge ahead – rising demand, a monumental workforce crisis and an urgent need to change the way services are delivered will make the next few years very tough indeed.

“And social care remains the Achilles heel – it has been consistently underfunded, neglected and unloved by politicians over many years and the extra funding announced today – again welcome –  is clearly inadequate.What we needed was support to get the system back on its feet but what we have is yet another sticking plaster.

“This means we will struggle on for another year. We hope that the social care green paper is not further delayed: this has huge implications for both health and social care and most importantly for the people who need these crucial services.”

David Morris, PwC public health leader said:

“The further funding for mental healthcare and clarity of how these important funds will be spent is welcome news. Mental health remains a significant issue affecting large parts of the population and increased funding and attention on this sector is important.

“We await further details on the NHS plan for the next 10 years in the coming months. New money is not enough – it must be accompanied by new thinking and new approaches to ensure it makes a real difference. The way money flows in the NHS financial system needs to be fundamentally changed so that money entering the system is put to best use for patients.”

Neil Heslop, Leonard Cheshire’s CEO said:

“After £6 billion of social care cuts since 2010 and poorly executed welfare reforms, disabled people have faced one crisis after another.

“Now with a slower roll-out of Universal Credit and an injection of funding, the Government must fix a flawed system that risks wreaking havoc on the daily lives of disabled people.

“Gaps in funding force disabled people into hardship and there are an array of practical hurdles resulting in 25% of claims starting but not finishing. It is crucial that before people are moved over to Universal Credit, we have clear, independent, evidence that it is safe to do so and that continuity of funding for disabled people will be maintained. Universal Credit managed migration is presently flawed, and the Government must ensure disabled people do not experience further anguish or distress.

“The Social care system continues to be on the brink of collapse and meagre additional funding in the Budget falls desperately short of what is needed. Our research shows that over half of the working age disabled adults don’t receive the care they need. This Budget is further evidence that the Government is not getting to grips with the real issues.”

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