Chancellor confirms £20.5bn NHS investment

It was confirmed on Monday that the NHS will, indeed, receive the £20.5bn previously promised by the prime minister

Philip Hammond has confirmed that, as part of the new Budget, the NHS will receive the promised additional £20.5bn over the next five years.

This will include a minimum of £2bn per yer for mental health services, £700m for councils and care for the elderly and those with disabilities, £10m for air ambulances and a 24-hou mental health crisis hotline.

Mental health crisis centres will also be opened across A&E units all over England.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, commented on Hammond’s speech:

“We welcome the commitments made to mental health in the Budget. We were also pleased to hear confirmation from the chancellor of the £20.5bn increased funding commitment made to the NHS over the next five years, which will underpin the new NHS long term plan.

“The allocated money for mental health sends the right message about the importance of ensuring parity with physical health services. However, while this funding is directed at specific new programmes, it is vital that we also see more support for core services for people with severe and long term mental health problems.

“And, given previous commitments on mental health funding it is particularly important to ensure that, this time, any additional money does actually reach the front line.

“The extra funding for social care will offer more support to local authorities and the NHS. However, despite this, it is clear that total social care funding will still fall well short of what is needed to keep up with extra demand. It’s also vital that the forthcoming Green Paper and the Spending Review provide a long term, sustainable, resolution for social care funding, rather than forcing local authorities to rely on an endless series of short term stop-gap solutions.

“For the NHS funding settlement to deliver real value, recover performance and deliver integrated health and care, it’s also vital that the forthcoming Spending Review provides the right settlement for public health, training and NHS capital.

“Prevention, as the health and social care secretary has flagged, must be a priority and trusts need the right buildings and equipment and the right numbers of staff with the right skills to provide outstanding care. These issues all remain unresolved while the budget for them is squeezed.

“Whilst we note the chancellor’s announcement on the future of PFI, a number of trusts with particularly onerous existing PFI contracts will need further financial support if they are to meet the prime minister’s stipulation that no NHS organisation should be in financial deficit over the medium term. We will need the forthcoming review of NHS capital spending to set out how trusts can fund big building projects in the future.

“Attention will now turn to the publication of the NHS long-term plan later this year. This will rightly be ambitious, but it must also be realistic about what the service can be expected to deliver, given the competing priorities for resources, the steep and relentless rise in demand for care and the current financial and performance gaps the NHS currently has.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added:

“This should have been a budget for the NHS to celebrate extra money after a decade of austerity and, make no mistake, the confirmation of that money is welcome. But let no-one be in any doubt about the challenges ahead – rising demand, a monumental workforce crisis and an urgent need to change the way services are delivered – will make the next few years very tough indeed.

“And social care remains the Achilles heel – it has been consistently underfunded, neglected and unloved by politicians over many years and the extra funding announced today – again, welcome – is clearly inadequate. What we needed was support to get the system back on its feet but what we have is yet another sticking plaster.

“This means we will struggle on for another year. We hope that the social care green paper is not further delayed: this has huge implications for both health and social care and most importantly for the people who need these crucial services.”

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