Budget offers short term help but no long term solutions for the NHS and social care

08 March 2017

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has delivered his first spring Budget.

The government has announced a £2bn grant available for social care funding over the next three with £1bn being made available in the next year.

It also announced that it would be setting out a green paper later this year outlining the government’s options for a long term social care funding solution.

Hammond confirmed that the treasury will work with the Department of Health to confirm a multi-year capital programme for the development of approved STPs, which will be presented in the autumn. An additional £325m has been set aside for the first approved plans ready before the autumn to proceed.

The chancellor announced capital funding of £100m for the development of new GP triage projects before next winter.

 

Commenting in response to the chancellor’s budget, NHS Providers director of policy and strategy, Saffron Cordery said:

“We welcome the announcement of additional funding for social care in the chancellor’s budget. Along with many others, we have argued that social care should have first call on any extra money going into health and care services. Good social care can help prevent admissions to hospital and reduce delays in discharging patients once they are medically fit and ready to leave. We are pleased the government has acted on the concerns that we have raised. However, the extra £1 billion announced for next year will only go some of the way to meeting a shortfall which was widely expected to reach £2 billion in 2017/18. Similarly the £2 billion of extra funding for social care covering the next three years – however welcome – also falls well short of what will be needed.

The £2 billion of extra funding for social care covering the next three years – however welcome – also falls well short of what will be needed.

 

“We need to find a long-term sustainable solution to how we fund and support social care services. This is not a new problem but it is an urgent one. We therefore welcome the chancellor’s announcement of a green paper and will contribute to it. It’s important that we don’t start again from scratch – the recent reviews by Andrew Dilnot and Kate Barker for The King’s Fund provide comprehensive analysis of the problem and some potential solutions.

“We are also pleased that the chancellor has recognised the importance of capital spending – on buildings and technology – to help the NHS adapt to changing needs. We welcome the multi-year capital programme for ‘approved high quality’ sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), which will be announced in the autumn budget. We need to ensure there will be enough capital funding left over for those STPs that will follow soon afterwards.

“And while it is right that we invest for the future, we also need to address day to day capital funding to deal with a worrying building maintenance backlog that has built up in recent years due to continual raids on the NHS’ capital budget to support other priorities.

We need to find a long-term sustainable solution to how we fund and support social care services. This not a new problem but it is an urgent one.

 

“The announcement of £100 million of capital spending to support GP triage in accident & emergency departments will help more trusts adopt what has become a tried and trusted approach for many NHS trusts. A key issue though is whether we have the GPs available to deploy in A & E – this is not just about providing the right facilities.

“The chancellor’s initiatives are helpful and will provide much needed support in the short term. But they do not by themselves provide sustainable solutions for the NHS and care services over the medium to long term. The gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the resources available will continue to grow. Funding increases for the health service will be much lower for the next four years than in the first year of this parliament. This is despite demand rising by between four and five per cent each year. We have to find a long-term answer to this funding gap.”

 

 

 

 

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