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The government has been accused of pulling emergency funding from the NHS via a £30.1bn cut in day-to-day spending on health and social care in the budget from April this year, as Labour said extra funds were still needed with waiting lists at record levels.
The Treasury said the cut came from those emergency funds directly linked to the pandemic – with NHS core funding still set to rise by £7bn.
The total funding for the Department of Health and Social Care is to fall from £199.2bn in 2020/21 to £169.1bn next year, with the drop allocated from Covid-19 spending.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, will visit a hospital in Derby on Thursday morning to highlight new analysis by the party that the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has increased by more than 500% over the last decade and that almost a quarter of a million people are waiting more than a year for treatment.
The Treasury said it was misleading to suggest there was a £30bn cut to the NHS. “NHS funding excluding Covid is increasing by £7bn next year, we also have funding in the Covid reserve, which we can deploy if the NHS needs it. We’re committed to giving the NHS what they need to tackle the pandemic,” a Treasury spokesman said.
Labour also underline the lack of any mention of social care reform in the budget, despite the way care homes have been hit by the pandemic.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, defended the lack of any pledge to fix social care in the budget, saying reform had to have cross-party consensus.
“We are committed to finding a cross-party solution to sustainable social care funding. It is important given the duration of social care funding,” he said. “Right now our our focus is the pandemic, but the health secretary has started that work and if we can find consensus we will bring that forward.”
Labour’s analysis found an estimated 4.59 million people are currently on the waiting list for treatment – the highest number on record. Of those on the list only 68% of patients on the waiting list have been waiting 18 weeks or less – a huge gulf with the statutory target for 92% of patients to receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral.
In November, the Health Foundation estimated that clearing the backlogs and reducing waiting times would cost around £2bn a year over the next three years.
The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, said the chancellor was “failing patients, our NHS and its staff by cutting frontline services during a pandemic. With lists already at a record high, this will mean patients waiting even longer in pain for vital treatment.”
“Yesterday’s budget papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundations of our country.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Labour: £30bn DHSC budget cut will hit emergency NHS England funding | Society