I believe fully in the NHS and its values, and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. As Ministers plan a new relationship with the EU, the Government will continue to ensure that the NHS is given the priority and stability it deserves.
The Government has committed to increasing the budget for the NHS by £10 billion more per year in real terms by 2020-21, compared to 2014-15. This supports the NHS’s own plan for its future, the Five Year Forward View. Furthermore, we have front loaded it, as we were asked to do by NHS England, with £6 billion extra by the end of 2016-17 with an extra £4 billion for technology funding.
Compared to 2009/10 in 2015/16 there were 2.4 million more A&E attendances, 5.9 million more diagnostic tests, 822,000 more patients referred to a specialist for suspected cancer, 49,000 more patients treated for cancer and 9.6 million more outpatient appointments. In addition there were 1.6 million more operations. Due to this the Government is determined to make sure we have the right number of staff to provide safe, compassionate care, seven days a week. The Government has therefore invested in the frontline and there are almost more than 23,400 extra clinical staff, including over 10,000 more doctors and over 6,500 more nurses on our wards since May 2010. This however is not enough. The Government is therefore making sure that by 2020 the NHS will have over 11,000 more doctors and 51,000 nurses are currently in training.
Social Care Funding
In recognition of imminent pressures on social care, the Government has taken steps in the recent Local Government Settlement to help in the shorter-term, making available almost £900 million of additional social care funding over the next two years.
The 2015 Spending Review created a social care precept to give local authorities who are responsible for social care the ability to raise new funding to spend exclusively on adult social care. The precept works by giving local authorities the flexibility to raise council tax in their area by up to 2 per cent above the existing threshold. If all local authorities use this to its maximum effect it could help raise nearly £2 billion a year by 2019-20.Patients should never be stuck in hospital unnecessarily and the Government is working closely with NHS England, NHS Improvement and local government to provide a wide ranging package of support to help local areas improve transfers out of hospital and reduce delays.
Mental Health Funding
The Government has legislated for parity of esteem between mental and physical health via the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and NHS England has now commissioned the independent Mental Health Taskforce to create a mental health five year plan.
Funding for mental health is allocated to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which are best placed to identify the priorities and needs of their local communities. I am pleased that CCGs are committed to increase their spending on mental health each year up to 2020 at least in line with the increase in their overall funding allocation. NHS England will be holding CCGs to account to ensure that this happens.
Spending on mental health services is currently at record levels with an estimated spend of £11.7 billion in 2014/15 and the Government has also announced an additional £1 billion of investment for mental health over the next five years to deliver improvements in perinatal mental health, crisis care and liaison psychiatry.
In addition the Government has made available an additional £1.4 billion over the course of this Parliament to support significant transformation in children and young people’s mental health. On 29 September NHS England announced that an extra £25 million from nationally-led programmes on children’s mental health would also be made available to clinical commissioning groups to support children and young people’s mental health transformation and delivery, with a focus on reducing current waiting times.
General Practice Funding
The NHS will earmark an extra £2.4 billion a year for GP services by 2020/21. This means spending will rise from £9.6 billion in 2016/17 to over £12 billion by 2021- a 14 percent real terms increase. This investment will be supplemented by a £500 million Sustainability and Transformation package to help GP practices add to the workforce and tackle workload, and additional funds from local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). In addition to this a £1 billion Primary Care Transformation Fund will deliver GP premises fit for the future and investment to support better technologies such as online tools and appointment booking, with up to £45 million extra to support online consultation systems and other modern working practices.
Money alone will not fix the problem and the Government is clear that far-reaching reform is needed to find a long-term sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system.