‘We want Scandinavian quality and Singaporean efficiency’: Jeremy Hunt demands NHS tightens its belts but gives it extra £6.6BILLION over next two years – as health service boss says the cash will be ‘sufficient’ (even though it’s less than they asked for)
- He argued efficiency savings ‘won’t be enough to deliver services we all need’
- Health chiefs had wanted £7billion this year alone, to cover soaring inflation
Jeremy Hunt today demanded the NHS tightens its belts to give the public ‘Scandinavian quality alongside Singaporean efficiency’.
The Chancellor, a former Health Secretary, simultaneously pledged to give the ailing health service an extra cash injection.
He argued that efficiency savings — which could see a crack down on the layers of middle management within the NHS — ‘will not be enough to deliver the services we all need’.
It means the NHS, juggling unprecedented A&E and ambulance pressures as well as a record-high backlog, will get an extra £6.6billion over the next two years.
Although less than what health bosses originally pushed for in response to the sky-high inflation bills, Mr Hunt claimed that NHS England’s chief executive said the top-up to its £150billion-a-year budget would be ‘sufficient’.
Announcing his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said: ‘The chief executive of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard, has said this should provide sufficient funding for the NHS to fulfil its key priorities.’
Health chiefs had wanted £7billion this year alone, warning that vital cancer, mental health and GP services faced being axed unless the Treasury stumped up extra cash.
The Chancellor, a former Health Secretary, simultaneously pledged to give the ailing health service an extra cash injection
HM Treasury data shows the NHS received £100.4billion in 2010/11 and its core budget has grown steadily until 2019. In 2020, the NHS was given £129.7billion of core funding for its usual services, which was topped up with an extra £18billion to help with the pressures from the pandemic. For 2021/22 the Treasury said the health service received £136.1billion pounds of core funding, as well as £3billion to help with the Covid recovery. The health service has been allocated £151.8billion for 2022/23
Official figures show 7.1million people in England were in the queue for routine hospital treatment, such as hip and knee operations, by the end of September — the equivalent of one in eight people (red line). The figure includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting, often in pain, for over one year (yellow bars)
NHS England data show just over 275,000 inpatients were given an operation or were treated in hospitals in August this year. It was down 6 per cent on the 293,000 average treated in the three months up to August in 2019
Detailing his Autumn Statement, Mr Hunt said: ‘The NHS budget has been increased to record levels to deal with the pandemic and today I am asking it to join all public services in tackling waste and inefficiency.
‘We want Scandinavian quality alongside Singaporean efficiency — both better outcomes for citizens and better value for taxpayers.
‘That does not mean asking people on the frontline — often exhausted and burned out — to work harder, which would not be fair.
‘But it does mean asking challenging questions about how to reform all our public services for the better.’
Mr Hunt also confirmed that Patricia Hewitt, who was Health Secretary under Tony Blair from 2001 to 2007, to assist with the review of NHS operations.
She will advise Mr Hunt and Health Secretary Steve Barclay on how to make sure the new Integrated Care Boards — which oversee local planning and budgeting — ‘operate efficiently and with properly with appropriate autonomy and accountability’, he said.
The Chancellor told MPs he had had discussions with NHS England about how inflation had impacted its budget.
Mr Hunt said he recognised that ‘efficiency savings alone will not be enough to deliver the services we all need’.
He went on: ‘So because of difficult decisions taken elsewhere today I will increase the NHS budget, in each of the next two years, by £3.3billion.’