Hammond confirms NHS funding in Budget

Chancellor Philip Hammond has delivered his 2018 Budget, confirming the extra £20.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years, as promised by Theresa May earlier this year.

Alongside the expected funding confirmation, Hammond also pledged a minimum extra £2 billion a year for mental health services, and new mental health crisis centres, providing support in every accident and emergency unit in the country.

Air ambulance services also received a Budget mention, with the Chancellor making £10 million of funding available to help them continue their expert medical work.

Also of interest to the NHS, Hammond sais that there is ‘compelling evidence’ that the private finance initiative is flawed. Following the high profile collapse of Carillion at the start of the year, as well as the more recent controversy at Royal Liverpool Hospital, the Chancellor said that PFI contracts do not deliver value for taxpayers or genuinely transfer risk to the private sector. Stating that he has never signed a PFI contract, Hammond ruled out ever doing so in future.

Responding to the Budget, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The allocated money for mental health sends the right message about the importance of ensuring parity with physical health services. However while this funding is directed at specific new programmes, it is vital that we also see more support for core services for people with severe and long-term mental health problems. And given previous commitments on mental health funding it is particularly important to ensure that, this time, any additional money does actually reach the front line.

“Whilst we note the chancellor’s announcement on the future of PFI, a number of trusts with particularly onerous existing PFI contracts will need further financial support if they are to meet the Prime Minister’s stipulation that no NHS organisation should be in financial deficit over the medium term. We will need the forthcoming review of NHS capital spending to set out how trusts can fund big building projects in the future.

“Attention will now turn to the publication of the NHS long-term plan later this year. This will rightly be ambitious, but it must also be realistic about what the service can be expected to deliver, given the competing priorities for resources, the steep and relentless rise in demand for care and the current financial and performance gaps the NHS currently has.”

Additionally, building on the additional £240 million for social care winter pressures already announced this year, the government will make available a further £650 million of grant funding for English authorities for 2019-20.

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