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Budget confirms funding boost for NHS in England over next five years

The Chancellor has confirmed a boost to NHS funding in the Budget.

Philip Hammond confirmed an extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years in his third Budget.

He also committed a minimum extra £2bn a year for mental health services. As part of this, the government will introduce new mental health crisis centres in every Emergency Department in the country.

There’s also an extra £700m of grant funding for English local authorities to spend on social care.

Professor David Oliver, clinical vice president, Royal College of Physicians, commented: “The Chancellor has taken one step forward and two steps back. He has confirmed a very welcome extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years, but he hasn’t done the two things necessary to enable the service to cope with increasing demand year on year.

“The extra social care funding only goes a small way to alleviating the pressures placed upon the NHS by having to care for people in hospital who would be better looked after in the community.

“Nowhere was funding for public health mentioned in today’s Budget, yet it is only by helping to keep people healthy that we can manage increasing pressures upon the NHS.”

The Chancellor also announced that there would be more mental health ambulances and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.

An additional £10m to support air ambulances has also been allocated.

Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said: “Two billion pounds for mental health confirms the early signals that this would be a key priority for the forthcoming NHS long-term plan.

“But years of underfunding have taken their toll and this is no more than a small step on the road to parity of esteem. Mental health services need more than money to meet demand. A chronic shortage of mental health staff means that, despite the new funding, the service won’t improve until the Government and the NHS provide a plan to increase the workforce.”

Murray warned that a proper plan was needed for social care.

He said: “The social care system cannot continue to get by on last-minute, piecemeal funding announcements. Adult social care in England needs at least £1.5 billion more per year simply to cope with demand meaning that the funding announced today, which will also need to cover children’s social care, falls far short.

“This highlights the need for a long-term plan for how social care will be funded and structured so that it can meet increasing demand. Successive Governments have dodged tough decisions on social care and the forthcoming Green Paper must now ensure social care gets the long-term plan it so desperately needs.”

Public spending will go up by 1.2% but most of that will go to the health service in England, Hammond said.

He suggested next year’s spending review would decide how much police, local government, schools, defence and other public services would get.

Hammond said borrowing this year would be £11.6bn lower than predicted in March, at £25.5bn.

He also said there would be no new PFI programmes in the NHS.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said the spending promises represented the biggest Budget giveaway since the independent fiscal watchdog was set up in 2010.

It was the last Budget before the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU, and came with the final relationship between the two sides yet to be agreed.

There was an extra £500m to prepare for what happens if the UK leaves the EU without a deal – a scenario Mr Hammond has said would require a whole new Budget.

Read a summary of the Budget.

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