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Patients Association - “A Budget that tells patients nothing”
Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, responded to yesterday’s Budget
“The Chancellor had several key questions to answer at this Budget, so that patients could understand how he would be ensuring the health and care system has the resources it needs. Instead, he has produced a Budget that tells patients nothing.
“We already knew that he had committed to five more years of below-trend growth in the NHS’s funding. But we had not yet heard what the equivalent settlement would be for vital NHS functions outside the so-called ‘front line’ ring fence, such as public health, workforce training and capital investment.
“We also wanted to hear how he would address the ever-deepening crisis in social care. And finally, how would he pay for these essential services?
“Impressively, the Chancellor failed to answer a single one of those questions.
“We now know that essential NHS functions supposedly not part of the ‘front line’ will get no new funding ahead of the 2019 spending review, when the NHS will have to make its case. In the meantime, those budgets will be falling yet again for next year. This will make it much harder to reverse ongoing slippages in the NHS’s service standards.
“There was another emergency cash top-up for social care - £650 million, split between adults' and children’s services, against an estimated funding gap for adult social care of £1.5 billion. With the green paper finally expected next month, we hope this is the last time we will have to comment on such inadequate, short-termist tinkering in response to such a fundamental long-term challenge. People who are going without the social care they need today will not be able to rely on this injustice being put right as a result of yesterday’s announcement.
“While the sums all add up, the Chancellor again missed an opportunity to be frank with the public about the need to fund essential services properly. If we want high quality health and social care we will have to pay for it, and eventually the Government will have to mobilise a meaningful chunk of our national wealth through taxation, rather than relying on a range of small measures and unexpected tax windfalls, as the Chancellor seems to have done yesterday.”
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