Briefing for Members of the Senedd: Debate on Draft Budget 2023-24

Briefing sent to MSs ahead of a debate on the Welsh Government Draft Budget 2023-24. Updated 6/2/2023.

12 December 2022

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Key points

  • The NHS currently faces its greatest financial challenge. The pandemic has led to a more complex picture for the health and care system, with pressures as a result of inflation, the elective care backlog, recruitment and retention of the health and care workforce, the rising cost-of-living and high demand on NHS and social care services.
  • The NHS requires a clear, streamlined direction and priorities, underpinned by a long-term vision for the system. This will need a tight focus on those issues which require immediate prioritisation and the financial support to enable it to happen.
  • While NHS leaders acknowledge the restrictions that the Welsh Government face, it is vital that the Government and MSs are open with the public to enable them to understand the pressures facing the NHS and the need to radically re-think how services are delivered in the long-term.
  • NHS leaders recommend that the budget prioritises the following areas: - Revenue: Providing additional funding to cover inflationary pressures, including energy costs, ongoing COVID-19 costs, addressing the backlog in elective care and supporting the maintenance of NHS estates. - Capital: Developing a ten-year investment plan for service change to reshape NHS estates and infrastructure, making them more sustainable, reducing carbon emissions and maximising public assets. - Workforce: There is a need for the UK Government to address the annual allowance pension issue that is prompting many doctors (in particular) to retire early. - Social care: Providing local authorities with ring-fenced allocations for social care, to support system-wide health and wellbeing and to meet the needs of their population. - Inequalities: Publish a delivery plan that outlines the action being taken across all government departments to tackle inequalities. - NHS and the economy: Recognising the significant contribution the NHS makes to wider economic and social recovery when allocating funding.
  • The response from NHS Wales organisations to the challenges of the pandemic serve to demonstrate that the health and care system can respond quickly and effectively to challenges when the resource framework and investment supports the direction of travel and aims to achieve the same outcomes.