Responding to the Spending Round announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“Today’s Spending Round provides some much-needed extra funding for the NHS and social care, particularly to invest in new equipment and facilities and to help attract and retain staff through additional cash for training. But these are sticking plaster solutions and do not provide the long-term certainty the NHS needs. Funding still falls short in key areas, including capital investment, social care and public health. Public health in particular has suffered major cuts in recent years and we have an extremely long way to go before that is recovered.
“Some may believe the NHS funding debate is settled following last year’s announcement of £20.5 billion of new funding. But other key areas of health spending were not included and they have only been partially addressed in this Spending Round.
“The extra £1.8 billion in capital funding is welcome but substantially short of the £6 billion needed to clear the massive maintenance backlog that has built up in recent years. The government must increase capital funding to ensure all NHS organisations can access capital investment to address crumbling buildings, failing equipment and outdated IT.
“The additional cash for training and retaining nurses is also welcome but it’s a drop in the ocean. It is not nearly enough to cover the lost funding for continuing professional development that we have seen in recent years and it will not, on its own, address the staffing crisis the NHS is facing.
“The £1.5 billion of extra funding for councils to cover social care is a start but it’s barely enough to enable local social care services to limp on for another year. This hand-to-mouth existence falls well short of what is needed to ensure thousands of vulnerable people, who are not getting the support they need, are cared for. The fact that £500 million of this is dependent on precepts is also disappointing: this risks penalising less affluent areas, where it is much harder to raise funds in this way.”