Responding to the government’s announcement of additional NHS funding, Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said:
‘A funding increase of £20.5 billion per year to NHS England’s budget by 2023/24 is around 3.4%. This will help stem further decline in the health service, but it’s simply not enough to address the fundamental challenges facing the NHS, or fund essential improvements to services that are flagging.’
‘Increases of at least 4% a year are the minimum needed to tackle the backlog of financial problems from eight years of austerity. Increases of just 3.4% a year mean longer waits for treatment, ongoing staff shortages, deterioration of NHS buildings and equipment, and little progress to address cancer care. Tackling the huge disparity in access to mental health care will have to be an aspiration, rather than reality for another five years.’
‘Tough choices now need to be made on where to invest. This must be an open and honest discussion with the NHS and public.’
‘It’s worrying that yet again, the funding increase appears to only apply to NHS England’s budget. This excludes vital areas of health spending such as staff training, capital investment and public health. There are at least 92,000 staff vacancies in the NHS and public health spending fell by a fifth in real terms between 2013/14 and 2018/19. The failure to combine front line funding with capital investment, training and public health will directly impact patient care and productivity. All this means there is significant unfinished business for the Chancellor in this Autumn’s budget.’
‘The government has unfortunately missed the opportunity to put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future.’
Page updated at 9:45am, Sunday 17 June 2018 to reflect the latest figures available - specifically, that the funding increase would represent 3.4%, not 3.3%.
Further news release
Health Foundation response to Prime Minister’s speech on NHS funding on 18 June 2018.