The chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, has announced the Spending Round, which reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the NHS with a cash increase of £33.9 billion a year by 2023-24 compared to 2018-19 budgets.
A new £1,000 personal development budget over three years for every nurse, midwife and allied health professional, has also been put in place to help to make the NHS secure for the future.
The Spending Round sets out the government’s spending plans for 2020-21, and this times around it has delivered the fastest planned real growth in day-to-day departmental spending in 15 years.
From 2019-20 to 2020-21, day-to-day departmental spending will now grow at 4.1% in real terms, and since 2010 the amount the government borrows each year has reduced and is now just 1.1% of GDP, enabling the government to spend more on the UK’s public services in a sustainable way.
The plan details an increase to the Health Education England (HEE) budget, including an additional £150 million for continuing professional development, as well as the additional budget for every nurse, midwife and allied health professional.
Javid also announced additional funding to deliver the government’s commitment to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment in 20 hospitals – sharing an £854 million pot of new funding. This is alongside a £1 billion boost to NHS capital spending in 2019-20 to allow existing upgrades to proceed and to tackle the most urgent infrastructure projects.
Another £250 million of investment will go to artificial intelligence from 2020-21 to help “solve some of healthcare’s toughest challenges, including earlier cancer detection and discovering new treatments.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said that the spending is “welcome”, but that it “must be the start of an ongoing commitment to invest in the NHS workforce, most particularly in ensuring long term recruitment of staff.”
He explained, “Following major reductions in central continuing professional development funding in the last five years, employers have been less able to support training and development opportunities financially in the workforce, despite a recognition and understanding of its importance, not only in terms of patient safety, but also to aid the retention of our talented workforce.
“The new funding promised today is therefore welcome, but must be the start of an ongoing commitment to invest in the NHS workforce, most particularly in ensuring long term recruitment of staff, particularly in areas of greatest shortage, such as mental health and learning disability nursing.
"Investment is also needed in capital to improve working environments and equipment for our teams, and in social care so that our people can have jobs founded on being able to do the very best for the communities they serve.
He also mentioned that the NHS Confederation “look forward to working with HEE and others to ensure that employers are able to use this restored CPD money to support their priorities for the development and retention of their workforce."