NHS chiefs: Budget pledges not enough to halt further health service cuts
NHS bosses say they have been forced into difficult decisions on where to prioritise spending – after Philip Hammond offered the health service less than half the Budget boost it asked for.
The Chancellor yesterday pledged a further £1.6bn to the NHS for 2018-19 – on top of £350m earmarked to help them cope with winter months.
But the total falls short of the £4bn figure called for by NHS England boss Simon Stevens.
Earlier this month, the body’s CEO said the health service needed the additional funding next year or face growing waiting lists and further cutbacks to vital cancer and mental health services.
And following the budget, a number of senior health figures, including NHS England chairman, Sir Malcolm Grant warned of a “difficult” funding squeeze to come.
“The extra money the chancellor has found for the NHS is welcome and will go some way towards filling the widely accepted funding gap,” he said.
“However, we can no longer avoid the difficult debate about what it is possible to deliver for patients with the money available.”
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, said the situation was “worrying”.
The health service’s mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said last night she was “deeply concerned” where it left mental health services.
She warned that there would be “some very, very tough choices ahead.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, the body which represents hospitals, said the pledge was “disappointing”.
"Tough choices are now needed and trade-offs will have to be made,” he said, though he said any extra investment was welcome.
Head of thinktank the Nuffield Trust, Nigel Edwards however said the money means patients and staff have “dodged the bullet” for now.
Meanwhile Prof Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said; “The NHS was staring over a precipice – this is an important step away from the edge.”