Doctors’ leaders applaud NHS cash injectionBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7432 (Published 02 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7432
Doctors’ leaders have welcomed the government’s commitment to boost spending on the UK health services by £2bn (€2.5bn; $3.1bn) next year and to ringfence £1bn to improve general practice premises over the next four years. The funding injection was announced by the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, ahead of his autumn statement on Wednesday 3 December.
The chancellor said that the money was a “down payment” on the recent Five Year Forward View from NHS leaders, which called for an extra £8bn a year above inflation for the NHS in England by 2020.1
Around £1.5bn will be invested in frontline care across the United Kingdom (including around £300m for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). In England the £1.2bn will be allocated by NHS England to clinical commissioning groups and specialised commissioning budgets. A further £200m will be set aside to help local areas make service changes mapped out in the five year plan. Of this £1.7bn, £750m will come from the existing budget of the Department of Health for England, with the remainder reallocated from other government departments.
An additional £250m will be used to invest in general practice premises and infrastructure outside hospitals. This portion of the money will be recurrent for the next four years, creating a total investment of £1bn. The government said that this portion of the money would be funded through fines imposed on banks for financial misconduct.
Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that the announcement was “excellent news for GPs, the NHS, and most importantly our patients.” She added, “This injection of funding can transform the care GPs and our teams deliver to our patients. We look forward to more details about the plans . . . and hope that this is the start of sustained investment in general practice and frontline patient care.”
Mark Porter, the BMA’s chair of council, said, “The chancellor’s announcement is an encouraging step forward as it does appear that politicians of all parties are starting to get the message about the dire state of the NHS finances. We are particularly pleased that policymakers have listened to the BMA and confirmed that £250m will be allocated annually for the next four years to invest in GP premises and out of hospital infrastructure.”
But he added, “Despite this announcement the NHS continues to face a number of challenges, with staff shortages, especially in emergency care, remaining a cause of concern. We need this announcement to be the start of a long term programme of investment in the NHS that is backed by all policymakers so that patients continue to get the care they deserve and need.”
The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Jane Dacre, said, “As well as helping the NHS cope with winter pressures, we hope that the extra finance will be used to invest in integration of primary, secondary, and community care much more effectively than before, in line with NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.”
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said, “Sustaining a high quality health service in the years ahead will require both challenging new efficiencies and genuine new investment.
“Of course, there will still be pressures and difficult choices, but the government has played its part, and the NHS will step up and play our part too. Today represents an extremely welcome vote of confidence in the NHS’s own five year plan.”
In a statement to the House of Commons the health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, outlined why the government had chosen to invest £1bn in GP and community care facilities. “To deliver world class community care, we need much better physical infrastructure. This [investment] will pay for new surgeries and community care facilities in the places where people most want them: near their own homes and families.”
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7432
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