Jason Parker, Head of Health for KPMG, comments on the Autumn Budget announcement:
Jason Parker, Head of Health for KPMG, comments on the Autumn Budget announcement: “On the face of it, Mr Hammond announced a significant injection to the NHS and recognised the immediate concerns that need addressing. But on closer inspection, while nearly all trusts are in significant and rising deficit, the money is not enough.
“To put the £350m for winter pressures in context, if the funding went solely to acute hospitals (152 of them), each would only receive just over £2m each. However, I expect the total will be spread even more thinly across all our NHS services.
“While no commitments have been made, it was promising to hear Mr Hammond’s recognition that an Agenda for Change pay increase is much needed for our hard working NHS staff. However, those not on the Agenda for Change contract are likely to see their pay freezes continue. Also unclear is whether the end to the pay freeze will be fully funded, or whether NHS organisations will need to add it to their savings requirement.
“However, the biggest disappointment with the announcement is the limited focus on long-term sustainability of the NHS. While the cash injection might help alleviate retention issues for now, in the medium-term, there is a huge shortfall of staff. The forecast future shortage is eye watering and we are seeing larger numbers of staff leave the NHS to return to their home countries following the Brexit vote. The Budget lacked a focus on training, education, and skills to help the NHS deliver a workforce for tomorrow, and this needs urgent attention.
“Also pointing to a lack of long-term focus is the failure for the Budget to addresses the next step in ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’: Accountable Care Systems (ACS), or Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). Investment here, to redesign services so they are fit for local geographies and the necessary financial and governance levers could ultimately save the NHS billions in the long-run, and it is disappointing that a focus in this area is not part of the detail. And adding salt to the wound here, social care wasn’t mentioned at all. The system was facing huge challenges at the time of the Spring Budget, and the cash injection simply isn’t enough to address them.”
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