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The health budget will shrink by ‘£1bn in real terms next year’ despite the recent budget injection into the NHS, a healthcare charity has warned.
An analysis by the Health Foundation, published a day after the Government reiterated its commitment to giving the NHS £20.5bn by 2023/24 as part of the budget announcement on Monday, concluded that the money will be spent on NHS frontline services only.
Health Foundation director of research and economics Anita Charlesworth said the funding ‘excludes wider areas of vital health spending where funding is also desperately needed: public health, workforce training and capital investment’.
She added that the DHSC budget will rise by 2.7% in 2019/20, less than the 3.3% the Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies recommended would be required just to keep up in light of rising demand and costs.
The NHS budget will increase by 3.3% next year due to a ‘higher than expected inflation’, which means it would fall short of the 3.6% increase promised by Prime Minister Theresa May in the summer, Ms Charlesworth said.
A further £260m would be required to meet Ms May’s commitment, Ms Charlesworth said.
She said: ‘Day to day spending on the wider health budget which includes funding for doctor and nurse education and training, public health, and the impact of pensions revaluation, will fall by £1bn in real terms next year.’
Why will the health budget drop by £1bn next year?
A spokesperson for the Health Foundation told Healthcare Leader that the £1bn figure is the difference between the DHSC and NHS England’ budgets between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
They based their calculations on figures in the Treasury red book published on 29 October.