Budget letdown: NHS faces record waiting lists and staff “exodus”

There was no significant new money for the NHS in Rishi Sunak’s first budget of 2021, with an extra £1.6 bn for the vaccination programme a small gesture, and it was totally silent on social care. As widely predicted, the requests for new money to enable the NHS to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic from NHS leaders, GP leaders and health unions have been ignored.

In fact, it is worse than just no new money, in the red book published alongside Sunak’s budget statement, the NHS England budget is shown to fall from £148bn in 2020/21 to £139bn in 2021/22. In 2020/21 NHS England got £18 bn in extra funding for its Covid-19 response, in 2021/22 it will get just £3 bn in extra funding, although the cost of the Covid-19 response is unlikely to have fallen so sharply.

The same goes for the total spending at the Department of Health and Social Care (including NHS England) – in 2020/21 it is due to be £199.2 bn, which includes £58.9 bn in extra money to cover Covid-19 spending, but in 2021/22 this total spending will fall to £169.1bn, which includes just £22 bn for Covid-19 response purposes.

Full story in The Lowdown, 4 March 2021