Osborne pledges extra £2bn for NHS

1 Dec 14
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that an extra £2bn will be made available to the NHS from next April in response to calls from the health service to boost funding.

By Richard Johnstone | 1 December 2014

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that an extra £2bn will be made available to the NHS from next April in response to calls from the health service to boost funding.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, Osborne said the additional money would be a ‘down payment’ on further funding in response to the NHS Forward View, published in October, that called for more taxpayer support.

The government could afford the additional money – which will come from both other budgets in the Department of Health and savings from other departments – due to action to cut spending elsewhere, he stated.
‘Because we have a strong economy and we've got the public finances under control, we can afford to put £2bn into the frontline of the NHS across the United Kingdom.

‘This is a down-payment on the NHS's own long-term plan and it shows you can have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy.’

The funding pledge comes after an extra £300m was announced last month for the health service to cope with winter pressures.

Responding to Osborne’s announcement, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the additional funding was a vote of confidence in the Five-Year Forward View, which had helped create a consensus around a reform plan.

‘People now get the fact that a growing and aging population means we’re going to have to supercharge our work on prevention, on care integration, and on treatment innovation,’ he said.

‘But we also told it as it is: services are under pressure. We know times are tight, but the economy is now growing. Sustaining a high-quality health service in the years ahead will therefore require both challenging new efficiencies and genuine new investment.

‘That’s the case I’ve been making on behalf of the NHS to government, and today they’ve listened and responded with the funding we need for next year to sustain frontline NHS services and kick-start transformation.’

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said the additional funding would help the health service through what was in danger of becoming ‘an impossible year’ in 2015/16.

He said that around £1.7bn of the funding would be available for England.

‘Our analysis suggests the extra £1.7bn will mean English health service funding keeps pace with the growing and ageing population next year,’ he said.

‘Further increases like this will be needed every year to 2020, alongside deep reform, for the NHS to keep its current shape and standards. I'm glad the government has started facing up to the very difficult decisions this will mean.’

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