By 2023/24 there will be £20 billion more a year being spent on the NHS “in real terms”, Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she said the government is working to secure the future of the NHS.
“We’re going to ensure there’s a 10-year plan for the NHS,” she said, with more doctors, more nurses, and “significantly more money” invested in the service.
Under the plans, the NHS budget, which currently stands at £114 billion, will increase by an average of 3.4 percent a year.
The government hasn’t confirmed how the budget increase is to be funded, but speaking to BBC Breakfast, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said more information would be announced in the budget.
He also said that any ‘dividend’ from Brexit wouldn’t be “anything like enough” to fund the move, and noted: “We are clear there will be an increased burden of taxation”.
All eyes will now be on the speech the prime minister is due to deliver this morning, which may also reveal further details on the proposed cash increase as well as the 10-year plan, which reportedly will aim to reduce waste, cut red tape and address variation in services and standards.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's chief executive Mike Thompson said the funding announcement for the NHS is “very much welcome”.
“The multi-year settlement will enable partners to work together and focus on improving services, delivering better health outcomes and ensuring greater access to the best treatments and technologies for all NHS patients."
However, while hailing the increased funding as “a significant improvement compared to recent years”, NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said the sum “falls some way short of the 4 percent extra-a-year figure which the independent report we commissioned said was required to bring ‘even modest improvements’ given the huge additional demands on the NHS.”
“The truth is that in spite of this welcome extra investment we will face hard choices and we need an honest debate about what the NHS can and cannot do. One danger is that it simply goes to prop up the existing system, which will certainly not be able to cope - even with this injection. Instead there must be a dedicated transformation fund to drive new ways of delivering care.
“We also remain concerned about the fate of social care. The government says it will make sure the NHS does not come under more pressure as a result of social care pressures - that must mean major public investment in social care - if it is serious about this, the government needs to put its money where its mouth is.”
Independent think tank the International Longevity Centre – UK also welcomed the new funding, but stressed that the growing pressures on the health service need to be managed in the long-term “to avoid this becoming a sticking plaster solution.”
“As Britain’s population continues to live longer and require more healthcare, the prognosis for the NHS remains poor. The International Longevity Centre calculated that if things carry on as they are, health spending could rise from around 6 percent of GDP in 2019-20 to 16.4 percent by 2064-65, which would be completely unsustainable.
“As we approach the 70th anniversary of the NHS, effective innovation and change is needed as well as more money. Social care remains in crisis, and cannot continue to be isolated from healthcare.”