Budget action on Covid-19 and pensions welcomed by NHS Confederation

11 Mar 2020 04:05 PM

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, responded to the Budget

“Covid19’s spread means the NHS is undergoing one of the greatest challenges in its 70 plus year history. The Chancellor’s pledge of £5 billion investment to support public services in tackling the virus, with the promise of more if needed, is therefore good news. We do not yet know how great the impact will be, but the service is bracing itself for a significant shock.

“It may not seem important, but the decision to tackle the pensions crisis affecting senior doctors is also a positive move – we have repeatedly called for action to address this because it was the cause of delayed and cancelled operations and clinics. In other words, patients were suffering.

“Senior doctors were having to refuse to undertake extra work for fear of being hit with hefty or unexpected tax bills – even to the point where they could be worse off doing the extra work than doing nothing at all. The Budget announcement should hopefully make this a thing of the past for the vast majority of doctors by lifting the pensions annual allowance taper. We need to look at the details in full but we are pleased that the government has listened to our entreaties which were motivated by our determination to protect patient care.  

“The extra £6bn investment in the NHS, as announced previously, is welcomed too but the devil will be in the detail on how this will be allocated.

“Our remaining big concern today is the worry that the government is kicking the can down the road for social care. We fervently hope the cross-party talks announced last week will bring results and we repeat our plea that the Government must be prepared to deal with the crisis that is here and now, as well as tackling long-term reform.”

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