HCSA’s Budget for Health – Three Areas for Action by the Chancellor This Wednesday

The NHS is currently facing one of the most challenging periods in its history. Demand is growing, waiting times are rising, pressures on facilities are increasing, access to some services is being restricted, and the level of strain felt by hospital doctors and other front-line health staff is soaring. The NHS is in need. The Conservative Party acknowledged this in their Conservative Party Manifesto, pledging to give the NHS the money and people it needs. Delivering on this manifesto pledge it vital.

Therefore, we call on the Government to use the 2017 Budget to fulfil its promise and provide the NHS with the resources it requires.

HCSA Calls For:

1. Sufficient Funding For the NHS

The gap between the funds that the NHS needs, and the funds that the Government is providing continues to grow. Unless additional funding is provided, waiting times will continue to increase, staff shortages will soar, and quality of care will deteriorate.

If the Government is committed to the NHS, it will need to make an appropriate additional investment into the NHS. The Conservative Party Manifesto stated: “We will increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years.” However, this claim only referred to NHS England spending - it excluded public health, education and training, and other Department of Health budgets, which were subject to cuts in this period. In real terms the £8bn, a figure identified as part of NHS England’s best-case scenario in the 2014 Five-Year Forward View, is not being met. The King’s Fund states that the real increase to health spending was only £4.6bn. Therefore, we urge the Government to, at a very minimum, honour their Manifesto pledge and meet the £4bn boost called for by NHS England CEO Simon Stevens.

We also call on the Government to recognise that even if they meet their £8bn pledge, the NHS will still be underfunded. A recent joint assessment by The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and The Health Foundation estimates that in order to match the pace of demographic changes and other increasing cost pressures, NHS spending needs to rise from £123.8bn to at least £153bn between 2017/18 and 2022/23.

The Conservative Party Manifesto also declared that it would deliver “an increase in real funding per head of the population for every year of the parliament.” The Government needs to meet this pledge.

2. The Establishment of an Independent Body to Assess NHS Funding Requirements

Underinvestment is a significant problem, yet funding is a highly politicised issue. Therefore, we believe that there is a need for an independent assessment of the pressures facing NHS services. We would like to see the establishment of an independent body to assess long-term healthcare requirements and propose the level of funding required to meet these needs.

3. Fair Pay for NHS Staff

In 2017 hospital doctors’ pay review body the DDRB again recommended a below-inflation base increase of 1 per cent. We would urge the Government to recognise the impact on staff retention and ultimately the quality of services of the long real-term decline in pay for NHS staff since 2010. We call on the Government to recognise this issue and, at a time when morale and motivation are low and workloads are increasing, provide a pay increase that is fair and reflects rising costs of living.