Exclusive: NHS fears spending cuts which would have ‘disastrous repercussions’
NHS sources have told NationalWorld they fear funding cuts after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget
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Professor Philip Banfield, council chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), said with inflation continuing to rise, it is “imperative” that the Government “revisits its spending commitments to the NHS” in order to “ensure that services are funded properly and patient care and staff wellbeing does not suffer from further cost-cutting”.
He said that budgets for the Department of Health and Social Care were set in autumn last year, before inflation started soaring, and that just like households need support to deal with rising costs, “so does the NHS”.
“Services and staff are already, at the onset of autumn, struggling to cope with demand - so cutting spending now will have disastrous repercussions as we approach winter when pressures on the health service will intensify even further amid widespread workforce shortages, increased Covid and flu levels and health impacts of the cost-of living crisis,” Prof Banfield added.
He said with seven million people waiting for treatment, ambulances waiting “for hours on end” outside A&E departments, and “more and more people needing ongoing care in the community”, the NHS is “already unable to provide the standard of care patients deserve with the funding it has, so it is completely unacceptable if staff are now asked to do more with even less”.
NHS sources have told NationalWorld they fear funding cuts after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget.
Responding to former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s recent comments on public service expenditure, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “As inflation levels and interest rates spiral ever higher, the NHS is already struggling to stay afloat and properly meet the needs of the public and the local communities it serves, so leaders are very concerned to learn that there will be no additional funding for public services, including health, made available any time soon.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged there will be no public spending. She said the Government is “absolutely" not planning public spending cuts and will instead focus on reducing debt "not by cutting public spending but by making sure we spend public money well".
But Mr Taylor said that with “such extreme financial challenges facing both NHS and social care”, including the cost of living crisis “hitting health service staff and patients” and “no sign of a fully funded workforce plan for the health service”, the Government must now “truly level with the public about the service they can expect in the months ahead”.
Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said staff are leaving the NHS “because they know they cannot deliver the right care, and for the sake of their own mental and physical health”, adding: “We must see urgent action and investment because services are simply on their knees.”
A government spokesperson said: “Over the last two years, an extra £36 billion was added to NHS budgets specifically to fund temporary impacts of Covid on the NHS, such as PPE, testing and infection control measures, meaning a like-for-like comparison to last year’s budget is not accurate.
“We recognise that public services are under pressure due to the global economic situation caused by the pandemic. The NHS resource budget in England is currently at £152 billion and will increase to over £162 billion in 2024-25 - the highest spend on health and care in any government’s history.
“The NHS is concentrating on new ways of working to increase efficiencies, save staff time, and ensure value for money. Our Plan for Patients sets out the next steps, including removing unnecessary bureaucracy to help improve access for patients and speeding up hospital discharge.”