Responding to the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng’s fiscal announcement, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“Health leaders will feel very underwhelmed and worried by the implications of this fiscal announcement. They will appreciate the Chancellor’s confirmation that spending on health and care will not be reduced following the scrapping of the national insurance increase and planned levy.
"However, in the context of rising inflation levels and the pay award not being fully funded, the NHS simply needs more investment to stay afloat and fully meet the needs of its patients. The real terms cuts facing the NHS are at least £4 billion this year, which represents the first drop in funding in years.
“There is a yawning gap which is leaving the NHS in a perilous position as local leaders will either have to cut back patient care or accept that waiting times will continue to lengthen.
“Elsewhere, while we welcomed the £500 million adult social care discharge fund, big questions remain about where exactly this funding will come from. The NHS’s finances are too tight to be in a situation where we are robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“Our members understand that this fiscal announcement had a deliberately narrow focus but when such extreme financial challenges face both NHS and social care, including the day to day lives of their staff and patients, this should not mean the government sticking its head in the sand. With this in mind, we are disappointed that our call for care workers to get a decent minimum hourly wage has not been acted on. The cost-of-living crisis is a health and care crisis.
“All of this leaves a number of unanswered questions on NHS and social care funding that will need to addressed in the Chancellor’s medium term fiscal plan.”