• Budgets for capital investment and day-to-day spending each lifted by around £1bn in 2020-21
  • Measures include changes to pension tax rules that will benefit senior doctors
  • No confirmation on multiyear training or capital budgets

The Department of Health and Social Care’s budget for capital investment will be lifted by £1bn in 2020-21 compared to previous plans.

According to Budget documents published by the Treasury, the department’s capital budget will rise by £1.1bn next year. It will total £8.2bn, compared to the £7.1bn that was previously planned.

The additional money will largely be invested in “estate refurbishments and building maintenance”, the documents said, as opposed to progressing the government’s flagship pledge for “40 new hospitals”.

In his speech, chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested a multiyear NHS capital budget would be detailed in a spending review in July.

Meanwhile, the department’s revenue budget will also rise by around £1bn, compared to that set after the five year funding settlement. It will total £139.8bn in 2020-21, compared to the £138.9bn that was planned in September.

This is broadly in line with commitments made in the Conservative election manifesto.

It will also help fund changes to pension tax rules that are designed to benefit senior NHS doctors who had been hit by tax charges.

And it will enable a “significant funding package to improve the recruitment, training and retention of nurses in England, ensuring there are 50,000 more in the NHS; and for the recruitment, training and retention of up to 6,000 more GPs and 6,000 more primary care professionals in England, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists”, the documents said.

John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust, described the additional money as “modest”, but “good news”.

Mr Sunak spoke of an additional £6bn in NHS funding spread over the course of the Parliament, which would equate to an uplift to the annual budget of £1.2bn. But there is no detail on the phasing of this, beyond 2020-21, or the split between revenue and capital.

There were no specific new spending announcements for training budgets, public health or social care.

NHS England has been pressing in recent weeks for confirmation of multiyear budgets for education and training — which would enable it to set out a comprehensive workforce plan — and this call does not appear to have been met.

Separately, the chancellor also announced a £5bn contingency fund for the NHS to pay for its response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said: “Today’s Budget will be welcomed by trust chief executives as a sign that the government is willing to listen to their concerns and invest in the service.

“We are continuing to campaign for more investment in NHS infrastructure, across all sectors, and aligning the NHS’ capital budget with comparable economies. Today’s announcement is an important step towards ensuring that trusts can repair and replace outdated facilities and begin to put in place the infrastructure needed to support the delivery of the long-term plan. Although the government is moving in the right direction, we will still need more funding, a multiyear capital settlement and an effective mechanism for prioritising, accessing and spending NHS capital based on need.”


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