What did the budget deliver for the NHS?

The Spring Budget delivered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week contained little for the NHS, and what was given is largely dependent on huge productivity increases being achieved.

Money for Tech and Digital

The main funding pledge was £3.4 billion of capital investment primarily for technology and digital transformation, which the Chancellor claimed doubles the digital transformation budget. The spending will be spread over three years.

In return, the Chancellor said that NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard has agreed to annual productivity growth of 1.9% by the end of the next parliament. This level of productivity gain is almost double the historic trend of about 1%. The increase in productivity is supposed to be achieved due to the transformation in technology, use of AI and improvements in digital technology

It is unclear yet whether the £3.4 billion is entirely ‘new money’ or how much will have to be found from other capital budgets, which have not been set beyond 2024-25, according to an analysis by HSJ.

The Treasury told HSJ the £3.4 billion “will be fully additional to NHS’s existing tech and digital capital investment”, with £2.2 billion of the costs allocated in today’s Budget. The remaining £1.2 billion “will be earmarked from the wider capital envelope”, but whether it will be taken from future NHS budgets, or elsewhere, is unclear.

The Kings Fund notes that the £3.4 billion is ‘mostly’ new money with other money from reallocating funding from other government departments.

Full article on The Lowdown, 14 March 2024