Budget Day and UK Chancellor George Osborne has come under fire for largely omitting the NHS.
For a topic that is seen as the third most important to the impending General Election, it was perhaps telling of Conservative election strategy that the Chancellor merely mentioned the NHS in passing.
“And because savings have been driven by efficiency and reform, the quality of public services has not gone down – it’s gone up. Satisfaction with the NHS is rising year on year,” he said.
No mention of future funding, no Osborne catch-phrase mention of the NHS’ relationship with a strong economy.
Labour leapt at the opportunity to attack the “glaring omission”, claiming the Conservatives were planning “massive” cuts over the next few years.
In response to Labour, however, Osborne confirmed the government will increase NHS funding in real-terms for 2015-16 but there would be no extra money for social care.
There were ripples of concern with the announcement, given that it failed to take into account the Five Year Forward View, which specifies at least £8 billion of extra funding.
The NHS Confederation called for an open and honest debate on NHS finances saying that if politicians don’t address the issue they will lose credibility.
“We know this year will be tough for the NHS. Years of punishing price cuts for providers such as hospitals are taking their toll on NHS care. There is a good chance the additional money in commissioners’ budgets might only just cover the increase in demand, and be insufficient to cover improvements,” said Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
In other Budget announcements the Chancellor announced the Fleming Fund, a £195 million fund to tackle antibiotic resistance. The Fund, built out of recommendations of the UK Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, will seek to build new global research facilities with a focus on lower socio-economic countries.
Other Budget announcements:
Other Budget announcements made include:
Increased spending on children’s mental health services by £1.25 billion over the next five years
£75 million to improve antenatal and perinatal mental health
£8.4 million for improved mental health services for veterans
£20 million over four years to develop “connected health cities” in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle
£40 million for demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for the Internet of Things
£20 million to Health North to promote innovation through analysis of data
£30 million to the Francis Crick Institute
Corporation tax cuts – firms with profits more than £300,000 will see the corporation tax drop from 21% to 20%, and for those with profits less than £300,000 corporation tax remains at 20%
Review of the Entrepreneur’s Relief Scheme
The introduction of voluntary advance assurances lasting three years for smaller businesses
Amendments to the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts