Autumn Statement and the NHS
Yesterday’s Autumn Statement brought welcome news to the NHS, promising to ‘front-load’ the increase in funding that has been identified as necessary to deliver the Five Year Forward View, with a £3.8bn of ‘extra funding’ for the health service in 2016-17.
The NHS has for some time held back from taking the decisive and radical service changes that everyone agrees need to be made to tackle its budgetary and service growth challenges, until more funding was made available.
It’s pretty clear that after yesterday, the Government won’t be giving the NHS any further large amounts of advanced funding to deliver the Five Year Forward View, and so now it has to get on with making what it does have work. That means above all integration, the vanguards and the new models of care – providing joined up sustainable healthcare services. The extra funding today will help, but critically there will not be enough new funding to allow rapid service transition, it will take longer than the NHS (and patients) might want, but it still has to happen.
The other point is that after yesterday the NHS certainly can’t expect significant help from any other parts of government to deliver that reform because everywhere else has suffered major cuts to budgets.
Specifically in the social care space, which is of vital interest to the NHS ,to support early discharge, the new 2% precept that local councils can levy for social care is in effect a whole new taxation system. It will take time to establish, never mind collect. Significant receipts from this local care tax won’t be seen for a long time.
Moreover how the NHS spends its money will be in even sharper focus now than ever before. NHS England has clearly been given special treatment and this will mean that the burden of delivering integration will fall on the NHS much more than other parts of local or central government. The NHS has to accept that the special treatment it has received comes at a cost, but surely it would rather have that burden and the funding it has got, so it has a chance to lead and deliver the change that is desperately needed.