Spending Review protects health, but the devil’s in the detail

Today the Chancellor has unveiled the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which sets out the limits of public expenditure through to 2020.

Much like the 2010 Spending Review, the government’s focus is on reducing the deficit and many government departments will see their budgets reduced.

Health is one of the exceptions to this rule. Indeed, the Conservatives have made the NHS a political priority and pledged to increase spending on the NHS by £10 billion, with £6 billion of this frontloaded in the next year. Presenting the spending review to the House, the Chancellor referred to it as “the biggest commitment to the NHS since its creation”.

However, the devil is in the detail. The government will continue its practice of ring-fencing the NHS England budget rather than overall Department of Health expenditure.

New health funding

Of the £3.8 billion that NHS England will receive next year (£2 billion of the promised £6 billion has already been spent in this financial year), £3.4 billion is new money from the Treasury and £400 million will come from cuts to the existing Department of Health allocation. This will likely come from the public health budget and the scrapping of the direct funding system for nurse training.

Some are sceptical that the increase in funding is significant. Chris Hopson, the CEO of NHS Providers, has argued   that the frontloaded investment leaves funding for the NHS very thin in 2018/19 and 2019/20 where there will only be increases of £0.5bn and £0.9bn respectively. He has also pointed out that the £10bn investment amounts to a 1.75% annual real terms increase, where the NHS has historically had an average 3.6% annual real terms increase. 

Given the high level focus of the Chancellor’s announcements, we were not surprised that he did not directly address end of life care and the additional funding needed to end the current situation in which one in four people misses out on palliative care at the end of their life.

End of life care commitment

However, the extra NHS funding and the high level of commitment to end of life care displayed by Ben Gummer, the new Minister for Quality, present an excellent opportunity for the government to tackle unmet need for palliative care in the UK. 

But we need to make sure that end of life care is a top priority for Department of Health and NHS England. Your voice can make a real difference here.

We recently launched a campaign calling on everyone to have the right to access palliative care, no matter where they live or what condition they have. We are calling on MPs to support us in that call.

Support our campaign

With the backing of enough people and MPs we can put pressure on the Department of Health and NHS England to ensure universal access to palliative care.

We’ve had a phenomenal response from MPs, but we still need more support to make this happen. By signing up to campaign with us, you can contact your MP and ask them to lend their voice and support universal access to palliative care.