NHS needs extra £3bn-£4bn, providers say

by Seamus Ward

13 November 2020

NHS Providers has urged the chancellor to allocate an additional £3bn-£4bn to the health service in his upcoming spending review.

The spending review will be announced on 25 November and cover one year – 2021/22. NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson (pictured) acknowledged that the public spending position is difficult. He also understood, reluctantly, that the chancellor would not wish to reopen the current five-year revenue funding settlement for the NHS.Chris Hopson

However, the service now faces new, urgent problems that were never envisaged when the settlement was announced in June 2018.

In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mr Hopson and his deputy Saffron Cordery said two major Covid-generated pressures were affecting the NHS. As well as a rapidly growing elective surgery backlog – as outlined in NHS England figures this week – there is a ‘deeply worrying’ surge in demand for mental healthcare.

‘It is vital for the health and wellbeing of the patients concerned that the NHS addresses this backlog and extra demand as quickly as possible,’ they said.

Hospitals needed more diagnostic and bed capacity, while mental health trusts needed more treatment capacity.

The letter added: ‘Trust leaders are deeply concerned that if the spending review fails to allocate the extra money to fund this capacity in 2021/22, the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of their patients is at risk. Many of those patients have already waited too long for treatment. They should not be asked to wait any longer.’

The NHS had responded well to the task of recovering services – meeting the elective surgery targets for September. But it now needed more help, and the providers’ leaders challenged Mr Sunak to honour his promise at the start of the pandemic to give the NHS what it needed.

‘We are therefore making a direct public request to you, as you finalise your spending review, to meet the pledge you made to the House of Commons and allocate the extra £3bn-£4bn involved,’ they said.

The HFMA called for additional funding in its submission to the spending review, including a five-year settlement for health and social care and across all of the Department of Health and Social Care budget.