Senior healthcare leaders and policy experts have been responding to the failure of the government to deliver extra funding for the NHS in the Autumn Statement.
Chancellor Philip Hammond repeated the controversial claim that the Conservative party will direct £10 billion into NHS funding, but no further monies were promised.
And the House of Commons Health Select Committee has already questioned the legitimacy of this £10 billion figure.
Hammond and former Labour health secretary Andy Burnham clashed in the Commons following this announcement.
NHS Confederation chief executive Stephen Dalton believes that he Treasury has “missed a golden opportunity to ease the strain on the NHS,” noting that “social care services are in crisis right now”.
“Relying on a political rhetoric that promises to protect the NHS, but fails to acknowledge that a cut in social care results in a cost to the NHS, is an economic deception,” Dalton continued.
NHS Clinical Commissioners chief executive Julie Wood was scathing of Hammond’s refusal to listen to voices across the healthcare system.
“We know the government feels it has given the NHS the money it has asked for, but we also know the delivery of the Five Year Forward View was predicated on a number of conditions that have not been met and funding has not kept pace with demand”.
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter accused the chancellor of ignoring calls from the health sector for much needed new funding.
“His claims that the NHS will receive £10bn in extra funding are misleading, as in reality the increase in health spending is less than half of that. This comes as figures released today show that the UK spends less on healthcare than the EU-average. The NHS has been under enormous pressure for some time now and things are steadily getting worse,” Porter suggested.
Meanwhile, King’s Fund policy director, Richard Murray, was equally scathing about government policy.
“The absence of new money for health or social care means that the already intense pressures on services will continue to grow. The lack of extra money for social care funding, in particular, means we are likely to see an already threadbare safety net stretched even more thinly. This will impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society, and so goes against the government’s commitment to creating a country that works for everyone. While the increase to the national living wage is welcome, it will add to the cost faced by local authorities and social care providers, making an already fragile market even more unstable.”
Murray noted other pressing issue for the government to address as well.
“The government will also need to look again at health funding in future. The planned increases in health spending are not enough to maintain standards of care, meet rising demand and transform services. In particular, the pressures will peak in 2018/19 and 2019/20, when there is almost no planned growth in real-terms NHS funding”.