Monday, January 6, 2014
The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement confirmed that the NHS budget will be ring-fenced until 2016. Responding to the Autumn Statement, however, Anita Charlesworth Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust, said: “the announcement that public spending as a whole will only grow in line with inflation in 2018-19 confirms that the unprecedented squeeze on NHS budgets is likely to continue over the next Parliament. Although the health service faces upward cost pressures of around four per cent each year, this tight fiscal picture and the deep cuts seen by other departments make it likely that NHS funding will not increase over this period. We have estimated that this will lead to a further funding gap of around £30 billion by 2021-22.”
Many, including the British Medical Association (BMA), have raised questions about whether the health budget will really be protected. BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter said “in reality billions of pounds are going back to the Treasury each year and the NHS is also having to make £20 billion in efficiency savings, the bulk of which is coming from the continued erosion of staff pay.”
It is clear that every aspect of the NHS is feeling the pinch, with NHS hospitals reportedly serving 69p meals to patients and 24 Clinical Commissioning Groups spanning all four regions of the UK having finished their first year in the red.