Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that tax rises will be necessary to help fund the planned NHS budget increase.
Closely following the revelation that the NHS’ budget would grow by £20.5 billion a year by 2023/24, equating to around £394 million extra a week, May shed further light on how the government would pay for the move.
“Taxpayers will have to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way to support the NHS we all use,” she said, and added that some of the increase will also come from the money no longer spent on annual EU membership subscription following Brexit.
With regards to social care, May said the government would come forward with proposals “to put social care on a more sustainable footing,” and “set out budgets for both social care and public health as part of the forthcoming Spending Review.”
May also confirmed that in return for the increase in funding, the government will agree with the NHS later this year a ten-year plan for its future, to ensure “every penny is well spent”.
“It must be a plan that tackles wastes, reduces bureaucracy, and eliminates unacceptable variation, with all these efficiency savings reinvested back into patient care
“It must be a plan that makes better use of capital investment to modernise its buildings and invest in technology to drive productivity improvements.
“It must be a plan that enjoys the support of NHS staff across the country – not something dreamt up in Whitehall and centrally imposed,” she said.
May also promised that the long-term plan would “fundamentally reset the deal between the NHS and its staff,” to offer “greater flexibility over where they work, when they work and what they can do”.
Other priorities also include embracing technology and a renewed focus on the prevention of ill-health.
"The Prime Minister has thrown down the gauntlet and made clear that the NHS and its staff can now help to shape its future. That is hugely welcome,” said NHS Confederation Niall Dickson, commenting on the move.
“The new money represents a major investment guaranteed over a five year period and quite rightly government and society will expect the NHS to deliver. But we must set realistic goals and make clear that there will be hard choices ahead. The danger is that we overpromise and under deliver.”