'Disappointment' Over Health and Social Care Spending Plans

Nicky Broyd

September 05, 2019

Health groups have been reacting with disappointment to Government spending plans for the NHS and social care claiming they are a short-term, quick fix and not the long-term solution that is needed.  

The single-year Spending Round announcement yesterday by Chancellor Sajid Javid was overshadowed by momentous votes against a no-deal Brexit, and the Prime Minister's failed attempt to get MPs to back a snap general election.

Despite that the PM's office has said that today marks the start of the election campaign.   

Extra Cash – But Is It Enough?

Mr Javid said his plans were "turning the page" on austerity. They included:

  • £13.8 billion more for public services compared to the previous year

  • £33.9 billion a year for the NHS by 2023-24 compared to 2018-19 budgets

  • A new £1000 personal development budget over 3 years for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals

  • £1.5 billion extra for social care

Reaction

Health groups have issued statements reacting to the spending plans.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chair, said: "After years of underinvestment, the NHS has been left struggling to cope with year-round pressures, leaving patients suffering long waits and doctors and their colleagues with rock-bottom morale.

"Today represents another missed opportunity from the Government to turn this around."

He said much of the funding had been announced previously.

"There was no reversal to the £1bn public health cuts since 2015, so that common illnesses can be prevented; no detail on exactly how the Government plans to support doctors in training, stop them leaving through burnout, and future-proof our medical workforce; and no long-term capital spending plan to address the £6bn maintenance backlog or investment in GP practice premises, so desperately needed to ensure patients are being treated in safe, up-to-date buildings."

On social care, he said: "The £1.5bn announced today falls short of what experts say is urgently needed to stave off the crisis in social care. 

"These are all areas that need urgent attention and long-term investment, not desperate short-term measures.

"Amid the chaos unfolding in Parliament, the NHS needs certainty, and today’s 1-year plan, rushed out ahead of the October 31st Brexit deadline, does nothing of the sort."

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians welcomed extra spending but said: "Our members will be disappointed that the spending review hasn’t delivered the resources that the NHS needs to roll out a long-awaited, ambitious and forward-looking NHS people plan. The story is similar for social care: another quick fix when it desperately needs a long-term remedy.

"We therefore urge the government once again to deliver a funding settlement for the entire health and care system that matches the job we all expect it to do."

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund think-tank, said: "It’s the equivalent of putting a bit of extra fuel in the tank when the car urgently needs a full service."

She continued: "Overall, today's funding announcements start to make up for lost ground but do not provide the investment needed to deliver improvements in quality and access to health and care services."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: " £1 billion can only stave off the utter collapse of our social care system, neglected by successive Governments for so long."

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said instead of "decisive steps", Mr Javid "provided sticking plasters, albeit fair-sized ones; in the context of the need for future reforms, he has made baby steps, but steps all the same. Ultimately however, there is no reason in today’s announcement to think that the NHS won’t endure another crisis-stricken winter in a few months' time."

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