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Patients Association - "Sticking plasters and baby steps"
Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, has given the following reaction to the Chancellor’s spending round announcement
“Ahead of his spending round, we urged the Chancellor to take decisive steps in meeting the needs of patients, and of people who need social care. He has delivered some definite good news, but has not been bold: in the context of long-running cuts, he has provided sticking plasters, albeit fair-sized ones; in the context of the need for future reforms, he has made baby steps, but steps all the same. Ultimately however, there is no reason to think that the NHS won’t endure another crisis-stricken winter in a few months’ time.”
“The Chancellor will have been advised that the absolute bare minimum needed to keep adult social care services at their current, unacceptable, level in 2020/21 is £1 billion above this year’s spending levels, and that is what he has pledged.
“The remaining half-billion of extra funds he has promised for social care will be in the form of a possible 2% Council Tax precept that local authorities will consult on – for local authorities in less well-off areas, this will not amount to very much extra money at all, although in wealthier areas it will be a helpful boost.
“As this is a single-year spending round, we wouldn’t expect it to produce a long-term solution to the social care crisis: but when it comes, it will need to increase spending by £12.5 billion by 2023/4 above today’s levels in order to deliver genuine transformation. Yesterday’s announcement is a baby step, hopefully in that direction, and may allow for some improvements in services in some areas.
“Overall in healthcare, there are welcome increases in funding, but not enough to undo the damage of previous policy decisions. The 3.4% real terms increase in Health Education England’s budget is not trivial, but like last year’s NHS England budget increase it falls short of returning the health service to its historical funding growth rate of around 4%, let alone making good the accumulated shortfall from the lean years.
“The promised real-terms increase in the public health grant is welcome, but we are concerned that there is no detail anywhere in yesterday’s announcement about its size – will it even reverse the cut inflicted on public health at the last Budget, or those of previous years?
“There is no reason to think that the NHS won’t endure another crisis-stricken winter in a few months’ time.”
“We also urged the Chancellor to consider the overall effect of his policy choices, to ensure that gains in health and social care are not undercut in other areas of public services that affect people’s health.
“In this respect, he has signalled an end to austerity, with all departmental budgets rising at least in line with inflation. But the sharp cuts of earlier years are not being reversed, and people who rely on welfare benefits in particular will continue to face disadvantages for their health and wellbeing.”
Figures on social care spending needs are from the Health Foundation’s analysis, published yesterday.
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