Responding to today's Budget statement, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:
'In today's Budget the government has rightly focused on short term measures to help the country cope with the impact of coronavirus. But longer term questions facing the nation's health and care remain unanswered.
'There will clearly be a loosening of the public purse strings over this parliament but it is vital that investment is targeted in the right places to fix our social care system and address avoidable causes of ill health. Over the last decade life expectancy has stalled, health inequalities have widened with a particular impact on the North, and people are now spending more of their lives in poor health. This damage has been most harmful for deprived communities.
'Although today's budget includes welcome funding for infrastructure, 'levelling up' the country will require more than a boost to transport and technology. Significant investment in human capital is also needed to improve the circumstances in which people live that impact on health and wellbeing. Areas in need of urgent investment include early years services and measures to address child poverty by reversing cuts to benefits for working-age people. There is also no provision for any new funding for the public health grant next year which has faced significant cuts and will continue to fall behind investment in front line NHS services. This is a major missed opportunity for the government to begin levelling up the nation's health.
'A notable omission is social care, which remains in a dire state, and is in desperate need of much-promised funding and reform. The Budget confirms funding for the manifesto commitments on increasing numbers of nurses and GPs and efforts to address the pensions issue may help to ease workforce pressures in the short term. However, staff shortages remain the biggest single issue facing the NHS and we are yet to see the long-awaited People Plan or a comprehensive multi-year settlement for workforce. New investment in hospitals and infrastructure is welcome but falls short of what's needed to bring us in line with the health infrastructure spending of comparable countries.'
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