Spending Review: Treasury announces £3.8bn health service funding boost

Significant victory for NHS chief executive Simon Stevens as chancellor George Osborne brings forward promised NHS investment

The government will boost frontline NHS spending by £3.8bn next year, as George Osborne brings forward funding promises to stave off financial problems in the health service.

The Conservatives committed in their manifesto to increase spending by £10bn by the end of the decade but the government has announced today that some of the money will be “frontloaded” after weeks of talks with NHS bosses.

The chancellor will make the spending pledge in tomorrow’s Comprehensive Spending Review. When added to the £1.8bn extra announced for this year, the 2016/17 funding pledge means the government claims to be boosting spending by £6bn.

Spending Review: NHS chief Simon Stevens warns over funding
Una O'Brien interview: the Department of Health permanent secretary on NHS finances, pay, and public health
The health of the nation in 2025

“We will deliver £6bn a year extra investment straight away, as those in charge of the NHS have requested," Osborne said. "This means I am providing the health department with a half a trillion pound settlement – the biggest ever commitment to the NHS since its creation.

"This will mean world-class treatment for millions more patients, deliver a truly 7-day health service and allow the NHS to implement its five-year plan to transform the services patients receive.”

Frontline spending will rise a further £1.5bn in 2017/18, the government added. Osborne had been facing calls from health experts to bring forward the funding, after figures showed NHS trusts had run up deficits of £1.6bn in the first six months of the financial year.

One of those making the case for frontloading was NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, who warned in a recent Health Service Journal interview that "considerably more progress" was needed in Spending Review talks to ensure a "genuinely workable NHS funding solution".

Stevens on Monday welcomed the chancellor’s announcement.

“This settlement is a clear and highly welcome acceptance of our argument for frontloaded NHS investment,” the NHS chief said. “It will help stabilise current pressures on hospitals, GPs, and mental health services, and kick start the NHS Five Year Forward View's fundamental redesign of care. In the context of constraints on overall public spending, our case for the NHS has been heard and actively supported."

The Financial Times reports that the money has been found in part by cutting public health and nurse training budgets. The NHS will get £4.8bn in capital investment each year, which amounts to a real-terms cut by the parliament.

The money will go towards the government’s goal of introducing a “seven-day NHS” by the end of the parliament. Osborne will say that by 2018 “key hospital services” will be available on a seven-day basis.

Specific pledges include £750m on investment in general practice, £300m more on cancer diagnostics, and £500m for new hospitals.

Read the most recent articles written by Josh May & Matt Foster - MI5 chief Andrew Parker steps out of the shadows to make social media plea

Share this page