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Prime Minister agrees long-term NHS funding plan is a priority

Responding to growing pressure from MPs across all parties for a “whole system approach to the funding of the NHS, social care and public health,” the Prime Minister, Theresa May told a meeting of the Liaison Committee last week that she supported a long-term, sustainable plan.

A letter signed by 102 ‘back bench’ MPs and sent to the Prime Minister had called for a cross-party Parliamentary Commission to engage with the public about the difficult choices that may have to be made to raise much needed urgent funding for the long-term of the service.

Whilst she did not agree that a Parliamentary Commission was the right way to go, Mrs May did agree that a move away from the current annual approach to the NHS budget is a necessity.

She said we need to: “recognise that for the NHS to plan and manage effectively, we need to get away from those annual top-ups of the budget. We do need to have a sustainable, long-term plan that should build on the work of the Five Year Forward View but we should look beyond it to a plan that allows the NHS to realise greater productivity and efficiency gains.

“This is a critical priority for me, so this year and in advance of next year’s spending review I do want to come forward with a long-term plan. I want that to be done in conjunction with leaders of the NHS, clinicians and health experts. The Government will provide a multi-year funding settlement in support of the plan, consistent with our fiscal rules and balanced approach, but ensuring that the NHS can cope with the rising demand ahead of the spending review.”

She added: “Ultimately, it is for the Government to take decisions about spending priorities and I would suggest that we cannot afford to wait until next Easter. I think in this, the 70th anniversary year of the NHS’ foundation, we need an answer.”

The Prime Minister wouldn’t be drawn on specifics of timing but did confirm the intention is to bring proposals forward ahead of next year’s spending review. She also stressed the importance of efficiency and sharing best practice across the entire NHS.


Birthday windfall for 40 hospitals and community services

On the day after the Liaison Committee meeting, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced 40 hospitals and community services are set to receive a 70th year birthday windfall of £760m to modernise and transform their buildings and services.

The Department of Health and Social Care says this is the biggest investment of its kind in the NHS in over 10 years. The money is to be spent on programmes to meet local demand, such as new urgent care centres and refurbishing mental health facilities.

The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) will receive £300 million to transform local hospital services. It proposes to use the funding to develop an emergency care site and a separate planned care site, with 24-hour urgent care centres at both sites.

The remainder of the money will be awarded to 39 smaller projects, including:

   £6 million to upgrade services of eight Trusts across Yorkshire

   £8 million for a new health and wellbeing centre to join up local NHS services in Kent

   £13 million for two new urgent care centres in Newton Abbot and Torquay and refurbishment of Torbay Hospital’s A&E department

   Several million pounds for local NHS services in London, including one project worth up to £11 million.

Jeremy Hunt said: “As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, we are backing it with one of the largest capital programmes in NHS history. As well as a whole new emergency care development in Shropshire, we are backing local NHS services with new buildings, beds and wards so that staff who have been working incredibly hard over winter can have confidence we are expanding capacity for the future.

“Further major projects are also under consideration across the country and we intend to announce one large scale scheme the size of the Shrewsbury and Telford plan every year going forward based on high-quality plans coming forward from local NHS leaders.”

The government is also releasing £150 million to support the NHS’s work to become more efficient. This additional money will be used to improve the use of a digital programme that helps the NHS use its workforce better, enable more efficient use of energy in hospitals, (which could save the NHS £12 million a year in the first three) years and improve pharmacy IT and administration systems to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.

The full list of hospitals/services and the amounts they are to be received may be viewed here.