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UK healthcare spending ‘will rise less than in the era of austerity’, analysis reveals | NHS

Health spending over the next two years will rise less than during the austerity period of the past decade, according to a new analysis of the autumn statement.

The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, a former health secretary who previously campaigned for greater resources from backbench MPs, announced last week that the NHS would receive £3.3billion additional in each of the next two years. With the service under increasing pressure, he said it would be one of his “key priorities”.

However, research by the charity Health Foundation found that when the whole health budget is included – covering the NHS, training, public health services and capital investment – it does not will increase by only 1.2% in real terms over the next two years. This is lower than the average of 2% seen in the decade before the pandemic, as well as the historical average of around 3.8%.

The research comes as NHS trusts face near impossible decisions over staff salaries, waiting lists and updating buildings and equipment. The Health Foundation’s analysis highlighted the continuing “significant uncertainty” about the delivery of health services over the remainder of this legislature. He said there were now “tough compromises” on issues such as pay and the backlog.

Unions are already sounding the alarm after Health Secretary Steve Barclay called on the body which advises on wages to show restraint in its recommendations for next year.

In a letter to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB), he says that “in the current economic climate, it is particularly important that you consider the Government’s inflation target when formulating recommendations”.

The government’s inflation target is 2%, but it is now at 11.1%.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, which represents more than 100,000 NHS workers, said: “The NHSPRB Board is clearly aware that without adequate pay, the outflow of health workers will worsen, putting endangering the very survival of the NHS. The situation is clear: we are fighting to save the NHS, and workers are ready to take a stand. »

Nurses have already warned they will announce strike dates for December unless ministers enter “detailed negotiations” over pay. Unite has also started voting 10,000 health care workers for strike action in addition to thousands of other NHS workers it has been voting out since October. Unite also plans to vote thousands more in the coming months.

Anita Charlesworth, director of the Health Foundation’s Real Center (research and long-term economic analysis), said there had been “short-term relief” for the health service, particularly in relation to cuts to non-protected departments.

However, she said it would “walk on water at best as inflation bites and it faces mounting pressures from an aging population, wages, backlog reduction and costs. continuous Covid”.

“If other parts of the system – especially social care and community care – are also struggling with cost pressures, it makes it more difficult to deliver health care and the 2% will buy less,” a- she declared. “Efficiency can only take the NHS so far. Since 2010, if we had tracked German healthcare spending, we would have spent £73 billion more every year, and £40 billion more if we had tracked France.

She added: “Without greater recognition that our health is our wealth – and vice versa – and a greater focus on its long-term financial sustainability, the NHS is likely to remain on a crisis basis, with difficult trade-offs. such as performance and increased waiting lists for the foreseeable future.

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard welcomed the funding in the autumn statement, saying it showed “the government has taken its commitment to put the NHS first” seriously. However, last month NHS England projected a £7billion shortfall in its funding next year which it warned could not be made up through efficiency measures alone.

A Treasury spokesman highlighted Hunt’s comments in the autumn statement in which he said: ‘Due to difficult decisions made elsewhere today, I will be increasing the NHS budget, in each of the two next years, an additional £3.3billion… We are committing to a record £8billion package for our health and social care system – a government prioritizing the NHS.


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