Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget has promised an extra £2.8 billion for NHS services over the next three years, though the amount falls well short of the £4 billion a year deemed by health leaders as necessary to retain the current quality of services.
The Chancellor promised £350 million this year to support services over the winter period, followed by £1.6 billion in 2018/19 and £850 million in 2019/20.
NHS Providers said the new funding is “less than the NHS needed but more than was expected,” and warned that “tough choices will be needed and trade-offs will have to be made on what the service can deliver in 2018/19”.
“Any extra investment in the NHS is welcome given the overall economic context and the other demands on public expenditure,” said its chief executive Chris Hopson.
But he went on to say that is “disappointing that the government has not been able to give the NHS all that it needed to deal with rising demand, fully recover performance targets, consistently maintain high quality patient care and meet the NHS’s capital requirements”.
Also commenting Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is another missed opportunity and falls well short of what is needed to relieve the massive pressures facing the NHS today.
“Over the years the NHS has required increases of around 4% above inflation to deal with demand and maintain services. What the Government is promising for next year represents around 1.4% plus whatever is allocated to cover the lift in the pay cap.
“Of course the extra money announced is welcome as is the promise of more capital and some more funds for this year. It was better than we expected but it does not begin to take account of the enormous challenges we have to confront over the next few years.”
He also noted that the Chancellor “did not even mention social care”, and that “the extra £1 billion for this year and next year was totally inadequate and will leave health and social care unable to meet demand and more importantly thousands of older people without the care and support they need.”
Elsewhere, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has welcomed the Chancellor’s “commitment to the life sciences sector,” which includes £2.3 billion of additional spending on UK R&D and an increase in R&D tax credits to 12 percent, as well the promise of a further £3 billion to support preparations for Brexit.
Other potential positives the industry could benefit from include a new skills-focused partnership, led by the CBI and TUC, that will develop a National Retraining Scheme to help adults retrain for new professions, and an additional £406 million for maths and technical education.
It was also confirmed that imminent Industrial Strategy announcements will set out the first batch of sector deals agreed between the government and some of the UK’s leading sectors.
The Budget “reiterates that the Government recognises our industry can be a driving force behind long-term sustainable economic growth. Creating new jobs, incentivising inward investment and delivering much-needed productivity gains across the UK,” said ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson.
“The strength of our sector and the strength of the NHS are inextricably linked and we welcome the Chancellor's additional funding for the health service. To meet the Health Secretary's ambition for UK patients to be at the front of the queue for new treatments, the NHS must have the right resources and the capacity to apply innovation,” he added.
The BioIndustry Association has also welcomed the doubling of the annual allowance for people investing in knowledge-intensive companies through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to £2 million, the doubling of the annual investment that knowledge-intensive companies can receive through the EIS and Venture Capital Trusts to £10 million, and the establishment of a £2.5 billion fund in the British Business Bank (BBB) to invest in innovative companies.
“The UK life sciences sector already has a strong record of attracting venture capital investment. The investment in the British Business Bank, and greater flexibility given to the Enterprise Innovation Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts, will help to build on this success to ensure the UK is a growing global biotech cluster,” he said.