NHS Providers submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2020
- The role of the health and care system has never been more critical in supporting people to remain well and live full, economically independent lives – and in directly tackling COVID-19 and its impact. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the UK economy leaving the country in recession and facing rising unemployment. We understand that difficult choices about public spending will need to be made however funding a sustainable and effective health and care system remains critical to protect wellbeing and as a means to bolster local economies and communities.
- The health and care system is facing longstanding pressures which pre-date the pandemic and have arisen from a lack of sufficient investment to meet growing demand for services and to recruit and retain staff in sufficient numbers. The government has also made a number of manifesto commitments around nursing numbers and new hospitals which require additional funding.
- COVID-19 also has long lasting implications for both revenue and capital funding requirements across the health and care sector. These include:
- the recruitment, retention and remuneration of more staff;
- the cost of implementing infection prevention and control (IPC) measures including purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),cohorting COVID and non COVID patients and establishing an effective testing service nationally and locally through NHS Test and Trace;
- investment in digital technology;
- funding capacity to respond to unmet, pent up and new demand from the lockdown period including a fully funded programme to recover activity on elective care, and meeting rising and changing demand for mental health, ambulance and community service
Achieving the aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), delivering on NHS manifesto commitments and meeting the costs of COVID-19 will either require a significant increase in the current financial envelope or a reprioritisation of the “ask” of the NHS. The worthy aspirations of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) were always ambitious and dependent on social care reform and other central funding being forthcoming. The addition of new manifesto commitments and the costs of the pandemic mean a reprioritisation in consultation with the health and care sector is now vital. The CSR will be a pivotal moment in determining what can be delivered within a realistic timeframe and within the funding envelope available.
The pandemic has also shone a harsh light on the need for urgent reform to place social care on a sustainable footing and to reverse years of under investment in public health.