2021 Budget representation
- The NHS is experiencing the most difficult period in its history, following years of rapidly growing demand within a constrained financial envelope. The 2020 Spending Review was a welcome and positive step towards addressing the challenges trusts are facing, but the Budget must build on this. The health and care system requires immediate support to manage the current wave of the pandemic. It also needs to be positioned to tackle the growing and long-term pressures arising from COVID-19, as well as drive forward transformation of services and outcomes.
- The government must continue to fulfil its commitment to give the NHS ‘whatever it needs’ to manage the impact of the pandemic. The health and care system has reached a tipping point. Urgent action and emergency funding are required to expand capacity to support the timely discharge of patients, sustain essential non-COVID services, and prevent hospitals being overwhelmed. Additional COVID-19 funding must cover Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), NHS Test and Trace, and the vaccination programme, on top of significantly increased demand across acute, mental health, community and ambulance services both now and in the years to come.
- The government should recognise and reward the vital contribution of NHS staff. The 2020 Spending Review committed to continuing pay rises for NHS workers and the Budget provides an opportunity to act on this by announcing a meaningful, real terms pay increase for 2021/22. A fully funded long-term workforce plan remains a key priority to help address the impact of workforce issues on the broader health and care agenda.
- Public health and social care services are still waiting for urgent, long-term investment. Immediate priorities should include emergency funding now and in 2021/22 to support discharge to assess, enabling people to return home or to another community setting as soon as it is appropriate. Urgent action is also required to rectify years of underinvestment in public health and social care.
- To deliver maximum value for patients and communities, revenue and capital funding needs to be allocated quickly, fairly and transparently. The Budget should clarify how previously announced funding, such as the £3bn NHS recovery package, can be accessed in 2021/22 so that trusts can plan effectively and meet local needs. A return to multi-year settlements is essential as soon as possible. The more uncertainty there is about the future, the harder it becomes to drive long-term improvements in patient outcomes, quality and efficiency.