"Record funding for the NHS, this budget gets it done"
That was the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as he unveiled the Government’s eagerly anticipated 2020 Budget. Despite the economic uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and the announcement of a series of financial measures to support the NHS during this period including a promise that “whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus it will get” it is clear that the NHS remains an important priority for the Government, as reflected in the translation of key manifesto pledges into budget commitments.
The Chancellor has promised a further £6bn on top of the funding settlement the NHS previously received to deliver on these promises. With the exception of the measures to support the NHS in addressing the coronavirus outbreak there was nothing particularly new. However, it certainly looks like the NHS will now be funded to move forward and secure these additional resources.
In summary the headlines are:
- The Treasury committed to create an emergency COVID-19 response fund, initially of £5billion.
- It will be welcome news for many to see the Government’s manifesto pledges to fund 50,000 more nurses, 50,000,000 more GP appointments a year and 40 new hospitals translate into the budget. This was in addition to a commitment to “train, recruit and retain 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists”.
- A further £100m in 2020-21 was committed to the Health Infrastructure Plan (HIP) in order to “make progress on 40 new hospital projects”. The pledge for 40 new hospitals is not a new one though; it just re-iterates the Government’s pledge before the general election last year.
- Funding will be committed over the next three years to speed up the discharge of individuals with learning disabilities or autism into the community.
- The DHSC’s capital budget will increase by £683 million in the new financial year 2020-21 to “allow Trusts to continue to invest in important capital projects such as estate refurbishments and building maintenance”.
- £12 million was committed to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
- The Immigration Health Surcharge increases from £400 to £624. There will be a new discounted rate for children under the age of 18 of £470.