latest health care news

20.11.17

Hammond dismissive of health organisations’ £4bn claim

Chancellor Philip Hammond has rejected calls from health organisations for an additional £4bn in NHS funding.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Hammond said the heads of public services always predicted an ‘Armageddon’ in the weeks leading up to a Budget.

He went on to downplay the £4bn that analysis from the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust said was necessary to stop a potential £20bn funding gap opening by 2022/23.

The chancellor hinted that the NHS might get the extra funding needed to cover health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of the end of the 1% pay cap on staff wages.

“That plan is not at the moment being delivered,” Hammond commented. “In the run-up to budget, people running all kinds of services and government departments come to see us and they always have very large numbers that are absolutely essential, otherwise Armageddon will arrive.

“I don’t contest for one moment that the NHS is under pressure. We have been doing some very careful work with the Department of Health, with the NHS, to look at where those pressures are, to look at the capital needs of the NHS, to look at where the particular pressure points around targets are. And we will seek to address those in a sensible, measured and balanced way.”

The health secretary last week said he knew trusts could not fund an end to the pay cap alone, however, he gave no specific plans to cover costs and many bosses still fear some of the funding could come out of total budgets.

The Autumn Budget will be announced on Wednesday, with many officials desperate to see an increase in health funding.

Last week, a YouGov poll showed that UK voters would be happy to pay greater taxes in order to fund the NHS.

The questionnaire asked whether an increase of 1% in taxes would be acceptable, with Niall Dickson, chief executive of NHS Confederation, saying it was just one option but the government needed to find a way to fill the funding gap.

Top image: Stefan Rousseau PA Wire

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