The NHS will receive an extra £3bn the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced.
Rishi Sunak’s Spending review has included a £1bn boost to tackle growing waiting lists for planned care.
The review prioritises funding to support the Government’s response to Covid-19, invest in the UK’s recovery and deliver on its promises. It sets departmental budgets for 2021-22 and devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period.
The £1bn funding will enable the NHS to tackle longer waits for care by carrying out up to 1m additional tests, scans and operations.
About £500m will be set aside to tackle the backlog of adult mental health referrals and fund new specialist services for children and young people. It will also be used as extra support for people with severe mental illness and faster access to psychological support for conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Around £1.5bn will be used to support existing pressures in the NHS. About £325m will be invested in NHS diagnostics next year, which could replace more than two-thirds of older screening equipment.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, labelled the spend review as “a Polyfilla budget, which leaves some major cracks unfilled”.
“Political leaders will need to manage public expectations, as there is a very real risk to the quality of services that hardworking health and care staff are able to deliver.”
Industry insight The Government has opted for a one-year Spending Review because of the scale of the coronavirus pandemic and its unknown impact on future public finances. The review focuses on “Covid-19 and supporting jobs”, with multi-year resource settlements only for the NHS, schools and priority infrastructure projects.
NHS services must be supported to recover, but also enabled to deliver the promises set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. This will be hard as the costs of recovery will be significant. Recovery includes meeting new or exacerbated health needs, particularly mental health issues, which will require an average of £1.1-1.4bn extra each year.
Tackling the backlog of demand for elective care and restoring waiting times standards by 2023/24 is estimated to cost an extra £1.9bn in each of the next three years. However, this represents an 11% uplift in activity and is not feasible given staffing constraints.