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Budget fails to address NHS crisis

Philip Hammond outside number 11
HAMMOND: Failure to tackle looming crisis

The Government has failed to address the funding crisis in the NHS and politicians from all parties must come together to address the problems urgently.

This is the message from doctors leaders after the Spring Budget 2017 – delivered in Parliament today – failed to offer any significant encouragement or remedy to the beleaguered health service.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the budget would provide a ‘strong, stable platform for Brexit’ and that economic growth forecasts for 2017 had risen to 2 per cent.

Despite his positivity, however, Mr Hammond found little meaningful financial assistance for the NHS – which is stretched to breaking point.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said: ‘Our health service is one of the best health services in the world, but is, increasingly, failing too many people for too much of the time.

'The NHS and social care is at breaking point and have been failed by partisan politics for too long.

'We need politicians from all sides to come together to agree a long-term solution to the challenges facing health and social care.’

Mr Hammond said £2bn would be allocated to social care over the next three years, in a bid to alleviate the pressure on the NHS.

But the health service was only given £100m for trial GP triage projects in emergency departments and just £325m was allocated as capital for STP (sustainability and transformation plan) projects – despite BMA research finding that they needed at least £9.5bn to get off the ground.

Mr Hammond also said the Government would be producing a white paper to discuss long-term solutions to the social care crisis later this year and said work would begin with the 24 local authorities which are responsible for the majority of delayed discharges.

He said the NHS was ‘central to the values’ of the Government and that it was vital that ‘everyone has access to our NHS when they need it’. He added: ‘Everyone should enjoy security and dignity in old age.’

Dr Porter said: ‘This budget does nothing to address the gaping hole in NHS finances. There is a £30bn gap to fill and we should be increasing the UK’s health spending by at least £10.3bn to match that of other leading European economies.

‘We have a crisis in social care happening right now, so any funding to help provide the care patients so clearly need is a big help.

‘Failures within the social care system hugely affect an already stretched, overworked and underfunded NHS – most NHS trust finance directors have said that cuts in local authority social care budgets are adversely affecting NHS services.

‘For doctors to look after patients well, social care needs to be well-funded and adequately staffed.

‘The crisis in the NHS doesn’t stop at the hospital door – our emergencu departments are struggling because of an overstretched system. Having GPs in emergency care won’t reduce admissions – if anything this could have the effect of attracting more patients to hospitals.

‘The Government also need to explain how they will fund and recruit GPs to work on site at hospitals when there already aren’t enough to meet the needs of the public.

'Many are already working in practices with permanent vacancies which they are unable to fill, despite Government promises at the last election to recruit 5,000 more doctors into general practice.’

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