Responding to the Budget, Danny Mortimer chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The Chancellor had a lot to prove in this Budget, but sadly he has once again left funding for health and social care services desperately wanting. NHS leaders will have hoped to see a much greater acknowledgement of the toll the past year has taken on our key public services, yet the health service will feel that it has been left out in the cold.
“The NHS has faced an unprecedented and almighty battle over the past year and has at times come very close to breaking point, so to continually under-resource and underfund both the health service and social care sector when they are facing the biggest challenge they have ever seen is of huge concern.
“Last year, the Chancellor promised ‘absolutely’ and ‘categorically’ to give the NHS ‘whatever resources’ it needed to get through the crisis; today, this promise seems to have evaporated and leaves the summer Spending Review with a lot of ground to cover.
“NHS leaders, including our members across primary care, will welcome the announcement of an additional £1.65 billion made available for the coronavirus vaccination programme, although details on what this means for frontline delivery will be crucial. We would do well to remember that this only forms a small part of a tangible recovery plan for the health service.
“While an additional £3 billion of funding to tackle the elective care backlog and wider pressures was announced in the autumn Spending Review, this fell far short of the £10 billion investment in the NHS recommended by the Health Foundation, and supported by our members, to deal with the impact of pressures and fall out from COVID-19 on our services.
“With this in mind, this Budget’s failure to address the crucial and long-term funding needs of the NHS weakens the contribution that our incredible, hardworking, yet exhausted health and care teams can deliver. It has also missed the real opportunity to go further and faster to address the significant and pressing investment needed to tackle the gaping holes in provision in capital, social care, in public health and in workforce training and education spending.
“The health service is still grappling with the immediate challenges of the pandemic, and we know that over the long-term, the implications and fallout from the COVID-19 crisis will be monumental and felt for years to come. A growing elective backlog of at least 4.5 million procedures, as well as record demand for mental health services and staff exhaustion mean we now urgently need to have an open and honest conversation about how and what the NHS can realistically deliver over the weeks, months and years ahead.”