Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement has committed no extra funding for health or social care, despite pleas from healthcare professionals.
Mr Hammond, whose investment focus was on housing and infrastructure, did not even mention the NHS as part of the Statement itself.
In his speech in Parliament, he reiterated the claim of £10bn extra investment in the NHS already pledged to the end of this Parliament, despite the House of Commons Health Committee exposing the figure as being only a £4.5bn increase to the overall health budget because of other cuts.
Mr Hammond said: “We are the Government that pledged to invest in our NHS and we are delivering on that promise, backing the NHS Five Year Forward View plan for the future with £10bn of additional funding by the end of 2020/21.”
The Statement notably abolished the Government’s previous target of being in surplus by 2020/21, with Mr Hammond saying instead that this should happen “as early on as possible in the next Parliament”.
He said this comes as the UK growth forecast for the next five years was 2.4% lower following the vote to leave the EU.
Other announcements include raising the higher rate income tax threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament and a rise in the National Living Wage to from £7.20 to £7.50 from April.
The Treasury will also be aligning the employer and employee threshold for National Insurance from April, “meaning that both employees and employers will start paying National Insurance on weekly earnings above £157”.
In his speech, Mr Hammond said “there will be no cost to employees and the maximum cost to business will be an annual £7.18 per employee” from the NI change.
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: “The Chancellor has chosen to ignore repeated calls from the health sector for much needed additional funding in today’s autumn statement.
“His claims that the NHS will receive £10bn in extra funding are misleading, as in reality the increase in health spending is less than half of that.”
Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage slammed the omission of extra money for general practice.
She said: “Today’s announcement falls far short of what is needed to address the challenges facing general practice in the capital and beyond. It contains nothing new for the vanguard of the UK healthcare system.”
NHS Confederation chief executive Stephen Dalton said: “Our staff delivering services on the frontline this winter will find it extraordinary that the Government has turned a blind eye to the stresses and strains being felt in the health and social care system.”
Nuffield Trust chief economist Professor John Appleby said the Statement was “grim news for the NHS” as it indicated no extra money “until the end of the decade”.
He also criticised the Government’s “starving social care of cash” which is “having a serious knock-on effect on the NHS, with more and more patients trapped in hospital beds when they could leave with more local authority support.
He said: “What’s more, the increase in the living wage announced today, whilst welcome for workers, will mean additional costs of around a third of a billion for social care providers from next year.”
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