Spring Budget 2024

Chancellor announces multi-billion pound boost for NHS in Spring Budget

As part of his spring budget, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has announced billions of pounds’ worth of investment for the NHS to cut waiting lists, raise productivity, and enable digital transformation.

Hunt laid out plans for a landmark £4.2bn Public Sector Productivity Plan to return productivity back to pre-Covid levels.

Around £3.4bn of this will be ringfenced for the NHS to invest in digital technology – most notably to make the NHS app a single front door for patients, roll out universal electronic patient records, and harness AI to help doctors avoid admin and improve scanning times.

The government positions this investment as the gateway to unlocking £35bn in productivity savings over the next parliament.

“…the chancellor has finally heard their calls for more investment in digital and technology…”

The chancellor also announced that the NHS in England will benefit from a £2.5bn day-to-day funding boost for 2024/25, taking the total budget to £164.9bn.

NHS Providers’ chief executive, Sir Julian Hartley, said the £2.5bn boost will offer NHS leaders “temporary respite” but long-term, multi-year investment is needed to help leaders plan for the future effectively.

"They will be pleased though, that the chancellor has finally heard their calls for more investment in digital and technology in the NHS, which has the potential to transform healthcare for patients, improve access to services and free up staff time,” said Hartley.

The NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, also welcomed the £3.4bn capital investment, but warned that larger productivity gains will only be harnessed if the NHS’s crumbling estates are addressed as well.

“This is why we have called for a £6.4bn annual capital funding increase for the NHS,” said Taylor. “Some of this may be covered by the Government's NHS productivity plan, but new computers sat in outdated estates is far from ideal and much more funding will be required.”

Image credit: iStock

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

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