Delays over NHS budget could have been avoided

18 March 2021


Responding to news that the NHS' budget for the first half of 2021/22 has been finalised, the chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said:

"Trust leaders will be relieved that the NHS budget for the first half of next year has now been finalised. But it is extraordinary that this has been left to just 13 days before the beginning of the new financial year.

"As we have been publicly highlighting for weeks, trust leaders have been incredibly frustrated by delays over finalising the NHS' funding for 2021/22. This has disrupted planning for another tough year as trusts seek to deal with the backlog of care that has built up during the pandemic alongside the ongoing challenge from COVID-19. The last thing trust leaders needed was their attention being unnecessarily diverted from the urgent tasks in hand.

"We could have avoided this situation. Indeed, when we discussed this risk with the government months ago, we were promised the NHS budget would be finalised well in advance of the start of the financial year.

"So while it is good that the NHS' budget has been finally set, it is disappointing that it took so long for this to happen. This mustn't happen again.

We note that the £6.6bn for extra NHS COVID-19 costs in the first half of 2021/22 is lower than the £8bn that the NHS' COVID-19 cost run rate during the past year would imply.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"We note that the £6.6bn for extra NHS COVID-19 costs in the first half of 2021/22 is lower than the £8bn that the NHS' COVID-19 cost run rate during the past year would imply. We will want to see the details to assess whether all NHS additional COVID-19 costs are fully covered and we will be seeking reassurances as we get towards the second half of 2021/22 that the NHS gets the money it needs to recover services.

"We also need to be absolutely clear that covering the NHS' extra COVID-19 costs and funding the multi-year cost of recovering care backlogs are completely different. The government announced an extra £3bn non recurrent 2021/22 funding in last November's spending review, £1bn of which was for recovering elective care and £500m of which was for extra mental health capacity.

"But this can only be seen as being the first instalment of payments to cover these costs, and crucially, it must be remembered that they are one off funding just for this year."

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