Anita Charlesworth, Chief Economist at the Health Foundation, comments: 'The Spending Review has substantially redefined and shrunk the scope of NHS services to be protected from reductions in spending. This means big reductions in wider health services, which is a false economy.
'The total health budget is rising by £4.5bn in real terms over the next 5 years, an increase of less than 1% a year above inflation. This means real terms health spending per person will be broadly the same at the end of this decade as it was at the start – despite the growing needs of an ageing population. The share of UK GDP devoted to publicly funded health will fall from an internationally low 7.3% in 2015/16 to just 6.7% of GDP in 2020/21.
'The government committed to increase NHS funding by £10bn in 2020/21. It has applied this only to the NHS England budget not total health funding. The Spending Review’s interpretation of what the NHS encompasses has cost the health system dearly – £3bn less than if the increase had applied to the full health budget in 2020/21. As result the wider health budget faces a real terms reduction of over 20% between 2015/16 and 2020/21. This includes other vital areas of NHS care – junior doctor training, health visiting, sexual health and vaccinations. The Chancellor has given with one hand and taken away with the other. Public health alone faces a 4% a year real terms reduction for the rest of this decade. Make no mistake, these are cuts to front-line NHS services and will directly impact on patient care.
'Given the scale of the financial crisis already hitting the NHS, there must now be real doubt over whether the quality and range of our health services can be maintained for the rest of this decade. Let alone any extras such as seven-day services and the aspirations of the Five Year Forward View. The NHS may see its way through next year but beyond that the outlook is bleak.”
'While today’s statement shows some recognition of the ongoing crisis in social care, the additional funding will not arrive quickly and is not the sustainable solution that our social care system urgently requires. The last five years have already seen 400,000 fewer people receiving the care they so desperately need. Today’s outcome is not even half a sticking plaster for social care. The social care funding system needs to be comprehensively reviewed and reformed to avoid consigning more old and vulnerable people to a life of silent misery.'
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