Budget pledges on health and social care dismissed as ‘sticking plaster’

Full story in The Guardian, 30 October 2018

Health experts have said the chancellor’s £20.5bn boost for the NHS in England by 2023 will leave the service still struggling to cope with rising demand for treatment.

The pressure on already overloaded A&E and GP services will continue because Philip Hammond only gave an extra £650m to prop up crumbling social care services, it was claimed.

Theresa May has promised the £20.5bn increase in NHS funding over the next five years will yield major improvements in cancer and mental health care. But doubts were raised about how much progress to expect.

“After a financial squeeze of many years, much of this new money will be needed just to get the basics back on track – keeping up with rising need, addressing sliding [treatment] waiting times and fixing the worrying backlog of buildings needing repair,” said Prof John Appleby, the chief economist of the Nuffield Trust, a health thinktank.

“Our calculations show that after meeting the commitments already made to patients, only £500m will be free next year for any improvements – less than a tenth of the headline increase.”