As the cost-of-living impact bites the Chancellor must be live to the increased strain on the NHS

Matthew Taylor warns that the cost of living crisis coupled with soaring inflation will push thousands more into poverty and ill-health.

23 March 2022

Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“Health leaders know only too well that the mounting cost-of-living is already having a huge impact on the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable people in our society who over the course of the coming year will be hit hardest.

“While the doubling of the household support fund for councils will help, this crisis coupled with soaring inflation will still push thousands more households into poverty, which we know is one of the key drivers of poor health. This will then have a domino effect on pressures facing the NHS as its teams work hard to clear the waiting list and respond to rising demand for healthcare services.

“Health leaders broadly welcomed the additional funding for health and social care in the Chancellor’s Budget last October and recognise the importance of putting this investment to best use but the world around us is very different now. With inflation hitting 6.2% in February - the fastest rise for 30 years - and as fuel, energy and food costs surge, this will have significant impact on the NHS, seeing it being forced to pay out more in its bills, equipment and the wages of bank and agency staff. 

“This comes as the NHS is already operating with reduced capacity, very high bed occupancy, and 110,000 vacancies, which will compound how much its services can identify further efficiency gains.

“Also, our members are very concerned by how hard individual NHS staff members will be hit by this cost-of-living crisis. A concession has been made in the fuel duty but we need to see the Treasury go further to shield community-based healthcare staff from soaring prices at the pumps as they rely on their cars to see their patients, including those who are housebound.

“A lot is uncertain but as the cost-of-living impact bites the Chancellor must be live to the increased strain and pressure it will have on the NHS in his next Budget this autumn.”