Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced that front line services in the NHS will receive a investment of nearly £4 billion.
The announcement from the government can be placed in the context of growing fears about pressures on the health service.
To be precise, front line services will receive a direct cash injection of £3.8 billion, which is considered to be an above-inflation rate figure.
The funding boost represents a rise of nearly 4 percent on NHS England’s £101 billion front line budget this year.
This can be seen as a precursor to the Autumn Statement, which is scheduled for tomorrow.
However, the Treasury has indicated that this rise will form apart of the overall manifesto promise to provide the NHS with additional funding of £8 billion by the end of the decade.
It is not clear yet whether this £8 billion figure will be adjusted following the cash injection, or whether Osborne still intends to continue with the manifesto plan.
The decision to inject cash into the NHS can be placed in the context of a somewhat failing health service.
NHS trusts are heading for a deficit of more than £2 billion this year as they fight to keep control of costs.
And reports have indicated that occupancy levels throughout the health service are already extremely serious ahead of the anticipated winter surge.
The rise will bring spending to £106.5 billion in 2016-17, which is the equivalent of a 3.7 percent or £3.8bn rise once inflation is taken into account.
Details about precisely how the money will be spent have not been released yet. It will be interesting to see whether this will form part of the statement to be released by the government tomorrow.
Speaking ahead of the Autumn Statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne claimed that this new funding would cement the future of the NHS.
“This will mean world-class treatment for millions more patients, deliver a truly seven-day health service and allow the NHS to implement its five-year plan to transform the services patients receive,” Osborne stated.
But Anita Charlesworth, of the Health Foundation think tank, was concerned about what had yet to be announced by the government.
“Any move to redefine and shrink the definition of the NHS would be particularly worrying. If some of the new money comes from other parts of the health service – such as public health or training – it would be a false economy.”
Labour shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander echoed this view.
“If new investment in the NHS is to be funded by raiding budgets for nurse training, public health and social care, then it will be robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
It is already known that the NHS will need to plug a £30 billion deficit by the end of the decade, and the Conservative party has previously suggested that this could be achieved via efficiency savings.