The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s plans to give the NHS no more than £5 billion pounds a year over the next three years have been upended by last minute lobbying from the health secretary.
Sajid Javid engaged the chancellor in urgent talks designed to address the concerns of the Department of Health and Social Care, as well those of NHS Providers and NHS Confederation, who claimed that the NHS needed £10 billion a year to deal with the backlogs caused by the pandemic.
It is thought that the cash injection will now be closer to £6 billion a year.
Meanwhile, the NHS in England will receive additional funding of £5.4 billion to help tackle patient waiting lists, as the number of people waiting for hospital care has mushroomed to 5.45 million – the highest figure on record. The cash will be available in the second half of the financial year, where it has also been earmarked for enhanced infection control measures designed to keep staff and patients safe from Coronavirus.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: ‘The NHS was there for us during the pandemic – but treating COVID patients has created huge backlogs.
‘This funding will go straight to the frontline, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.’
The Workers Union Says…
If ever one institution could be said to be emblematic of the British spirit in a crisis, it’s the NHS. During one of the most difficult, challenging periods in our health service’s history, the people that make up its ranks have shown themselves to be brilliant, resourceful, selfless and brave.
We are pleased that the government has recognised their contribution with this extra money. It shows that the social contract between politicians and the people who elect them is still fit for purpose. It would have been easy to stick to the initial funding commitments, but as a country, we’ve shown that we’re able to make and take hard choices about what we do with public money. Yes, there remains much to be done to get the NHS back on track – but given that many commentators prophesised total collapse just a few short months ago, the government can legitimately argue that they are making this call from a position of relative strength, rather than last ditch weakness.
That strength, at least in part, comes from NHS workers themselves. Like everything else that’s good about our public services, the NHS is a towering example of the tireless determination of our healthcare professionals. This funding is the first step towards giving them the tools and resources that they need to continue looking after us. As such it cannot be seen as journey’s end, but as a significant staging post on the way to sustaining our health service through the challenges ahead.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you