The must read stories from budget day

Funding with Phil

The chancellor cracked several jokes during his budget statement, but few in the NHS seem to share his sense of humour. Many are unhappy with the health service’s lot as announced by Philip Hammond on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Hammond said there would be £2.8bn of extra revenue funding for the NHS to cope with pressures between now and the end of 2019-20. The new funding is “exceptional”, which suggests it is non-recurrent and cannot be budgeted for in future years.

The money will be split over three financial years, with one-off and non-cumulative increases to the existing planned budgets in each year. The current year’s budget will increase by £335m, purportedly to help the NHS cope with winter pressures. The budget that was previously planned for 2018-19 will increase by £1.6bn – due to be split between elective care recovery and emergency – with the 2019-20 planned spending limit rising by £900m.

The health sector had insisted an extra £8bn was needed over this period just to maintain day to day services, while the major think tanks agreed £4bn was needed next year alone. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens also appeared to support an uplift of this order.

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan’s verdict is that this budget and Jeremy Hunt creating unrealistic expectations for the service “put the government in direct opposition to the views of the NHS leadership”.

Sir Bruce Keogh said his “personal view” was: “The budget plugs some, but definitely not all, of NHS funding gap. Will force a debate about what the public can and can’t expect from the NHS. Worrying that longer waits seem likely/unavoidable.”

Meanwhile, even some of the “winners” of capital made clear their displeasure with the budget’s bigger picture.

Twelve STP projects will receive the first share of £2.6bn in capital, splitting £260m between them.

Two trust bosses who also lead two of the STPs receiving money were blunt on Twitter.

Birmingham Women and Children’s FT chief Sarah-Jane Marsh said her reaction to the settlement was “one of extreme sadness. Some very difficult conversations ahead.” While chief executive of South Warwickshire FT, Glen Burley, warned: “We will have to make some choices about what we don’t do in the future.”

NHS England has said its board meeting next week will start “the difficult debate about what it is possible to deliver for patients with the money available”.