Hospital Dr News

Experts question where funds will come from for PM’s NHS budget rise

Uncertainty continues over how the Government intends to fund the extra £20.5bn a year, it has committed to the NHS by 2023.

In a speech on Monday, the Prime Minister said tax rises were inevitable.

“As a country, taxpayers will need to contribute a bit more,” she said. “But we will do that in a fair and balanced way. And we want to listen to people about how we do that, and the chancellor will bring forward the full set of proposals before the spending review.”

She repeated her controversial suggestion that a “Brexit dividend” would meet part of the cost when the Treasury stopped paying EU contributions.

Theresa May said she would be asking NHS leaders to use the next few months to set out reform plans to match the new 10-year funding settlement and suggested she would consider repealing aspects of the NHS changes carried out by former health secretary Andrew Lansley.

It represents a funding increase of 3.4% a year, which is still lower than the historical rises of 4% a year.

Many suggest that while it will keep services operating, it is too low a sum to tackle the growing debt among acute hospitals and the challenges of ageing equipment and facilities.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The new money represents a major investment guaranteed over a five-year period and quite rightly government and society will expect the NHS to deliver.

“But we must set realistic goals and make clear that there will be hard choices ahead. The danger is that we overpromise and under deliver.

“The biggest challenge will be to make sure we do not just put more money into existing services but instead reform the way services are run.”

Prior to the announcement, the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation sent a joint letter to the PM saying that a real terms funding increase of 4% a year was the minimum required for the NHS to meet current pressures and deliver any improvement in services.

The letter also stressed that the funding settlement and new long term plan for the NHS must go hand-in-hand with a new strategy to tackle the crisis facing the NHS workforce and wide-ranging reforms to social care.

It is believed that Theresa May is prepared to tear up the Tories’ tax pledges from last year’s General Election to pay for her NHS funding plans, as she comes under growing pressure to explain how she will find the money.

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