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Mixed responses to the Spending Round

Chancellor Sajid Javid’s first Spending Round has pledged to deliver more funding for the NHS and social care, but although the promise of more money has been positively received, there are strong cautions that it is still not enough.


The government says this Spending Round confirms its commitment to the NHS. The Department of Health and Social Care’s budget will rise by 3.1% in real terms, giving the NHS a cash increase of £33.9 billion a year by 2023-24 compared to 2018/19 budgets. There is also a new £1,000 personal development budget over three years for every nurse, midwife and allied health professional. A £250m investment in artificial intelligence will aim to solve some of the challenges facing healthcare. Councils will also have access to a further £1.5bn for social care. A multi-year capital settlement is promised for the Department at the next capital review.


Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, says: “We welcome the clear sign from the government today that the NHS is a key domestic priority. We have been calling for a new approach to investment in our NHS, its buildings and infrastructure, so it is good to see that the government has committed to do this at the next spending review.


“NHS trusts will also welcome the additional funding for training and development and public health, and will be relieved to see some extra money earmarked for overstretched social care services. But today’s announcements, whilst welcome, just focus on the immediate short-term. We still need concrete long-term funding commitments on capital, public health and education if the NHS is to deliver its long term plan.”


Nuffield Trust calls the Spending Round a sadly missed opportunity to reverse cuts. Chief Economist, John Appleby says: “With a dire staffing crisis, we came together with the other health think tanks to warn that the training budget needed to rise sharply this year*. There is new money here, and it is welcome, but it amounts to only about a third of what we calculated was required.


“Funding for developing staff skills mid-career is rising by £150 million, which is much less than what would be needed just to get staff back to where they were in 2013/14. And the rest of the budget is hardly rising, leaving almost nothing to get the additional nursing students and GP trainees we urgently need.


“On social care, while the increase in funding next year will give some certainty, it is yet another short-term sticking plaster on a broken system. £1 billion extra for adult care is the minimum needed to prop up the system, and will not even get us back to the levels of care a few years ago. We need to see the ‘clear plan’ that Sajid Javid referred to and it must set out a vision for a fair and sustainable system that supports people of all ages and spreads catastrophic costs across society, instead of leaving the individual to face them alone.”


* Closing the Gap, produced with the King’s Fund and Health Foundation, states that an increase of £690m in Health Education England’s budget is needed in 2020/21 to enable actions to tackle the shortfall of nurses and GPs.