New funding allocated as part of the Government’s Budget review will need to be supported by a strong NHS workforce to ensure the money delivers results, health leaders have said.
Ahead of the Government’s review today (27 October), the Treasury confirmed £5.9bn funding to tackle England’s growing backlog for care, which currently sits at 5.7 million people.
Responding to the review, Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation said the ‘significant increase in capital funding will help’ tackle the backlog.
‘But to ensure the extra money delivers for the public, a strong and supported NHS workforce is needed. This is why training and increasing the supply of doctors, nurses and other health and care professionals is so important at a time when public polling recognizes that staffing is the biggest problem facing the NHS,’ he said.
‘It is unclear how the growth in planned departmental spending will affect NHS training and education budgets.’
As part of his budget, Mr Sunak also announced:
- £5.9bn towards diagnostic services and tackling the backlog
- A £560m care package for children and families – including more than £80m for family hubs, £100m to support the mental health of new and expectant parents, £120m towards other comprehensive family support programmes, and £200m to help vulnerable families
- A £500m Household Support Fund for local authorities, with at least 50% of the funding earmarked for households with children to help with the cost of living
Many in the social care sector had called for a greater portion of the Health and Social Care Levy, announced in September, to go towards the sector. Of the £36bn extra estimated to be gained over the next three years, just £5.4bn is earmarked for social care in England.
And NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery stressed that ‘workforce shortages and the resulting unsustainable workload on existing NHS staff are currently the health service’s biggest problem’, which ‘can only be tackled with a robust long term workforce plan’.
When announcing his budget, Mr Sunak said: ‘At the start of this Parliament, resource spending on healthcare was £133bn.Today’s Spending Review confirms that by the end of this Parliament, it will increase by £44bn to over £177bn.
‘The extra revenue we’re now forecast to raise from the Health and Social Care Levy is going direct to the NHS and social care as promised. The health capital budget will be the largest since 2010.’
Commenting on the pledge yesterday, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: ‘The promise of delivering millions more checks, scans, and procedures as part of tackling the backlog will require trained staff, and this must be addressed on Wednesday if this funding is going to have any impact on patient care.’
He flagged that there are 93,000 vacancies across the NHS, with BMA estimates suggesting the NHS is short of 50,000 FTE doctors to sit on the same standing with OECD EU nations.
This comes as the backlog for care appears to be growing by about 100,000 people each month, while NHS staff are reporting they are falling under ‘the highest pressure they have ever known’.
A version of this story first appeared on our sister title, Nursing in Practice.