Thank you for contacting me about NHS funding.
The Government is providing historically high levels of funding for the NHS, and is committed to investing in our health and public services properly. The Government will continue to support the NHS to tackle the elective backlog, deliver its Long Term Plan and ensure it has the resources needed to recover from the impact of Covid-19. Despite difficult financial circumstances, NHS investment has increased every year since 2010 and will continue rising in future years.
Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated that UK Government spending on healthcare is the fifth highest out of the OECD's 32 members - among them, many of the world's most economically advanced and prosperous countries. The Organisation's 'Health at a Glance' report shows that UK healthcare spending is relatively high and is higher than the spending in countries including Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, Japan and New Zealand.
The Chancellor recently made a number of spending commitments at the Autumn Statement, making available £8 billion of funding for the NHS and adult social care in England in 2024-25. As part of this, the Government is investing an additional £3.3 billion in 2023-24 and 2024-25 to support the NHS in England. This will enable rapid action to improve emergency, elective and primary care performance. This will happen alongside the introduction of reforms to support the workforce and improve performance across the health system over the longer term.
The Government will also make available up to £4.7 billion in 2024-25 to put the adult social care system in England on a stronger financial footing and improve the quality of and access to care for many of the most vulnerable in our society. This includes £1 billion to directly support discharges from hospital into the community, to support the NHS.
In January 2023, the Government announced that an additional £200 million will be made available to immediately buy short-term care placements to help discharge more patients who are fit to leave hospital and free up hospital beds for those who need them. A further £50 million of capital funding was announced to upgrade and expand hospitals including new ambulance hubs and facilities for patients about to be discharged. This builds on the £500 million announced for discharge specifically at the Autumn Statement, which is ramping up, and the additional funding for next year.
The Government has recently published its Urgent and Emergency Care Plan alongside an investment of £1 billion to deliver 5,000 more hospital beds compared to the numbers originally planned for 2022-23, and to put over 800 more ambulances on the road. This will speed up discharge from hospitals, free up beds for patients needing urgent and emergency care and, ultimately, reduce pressures on hospitals.
NHS England will also deliver year-on-year improvements in A&E waiting times over 2023-24 and 2024-25, as well as improved access to general practice, so that everyone who needs an appointment with their GP practice can get one within two weeks, and those who need an urgent appointment can get one on the same day. Furthermore, a primary care recovery plan will be published shortly to support the vital front door to the NHS through primary care.
It is crucial that checks and balances are put in place to ensure money for the NHS is spent prudently. The public rightly expects every penny of funding that goes to the NHS to be spent well, which is an expectation I share. It is welcome that the NHS is already working to be more efficient and cut waste and has pledged to make savings while still boosting productivity by at least 1.1 per cent a year. I can assure you that, as your Member of Parliament, I will continue to work to ensure any taxpayer money given to the NHS is spent where it is needed most.
The Government's efforts are bearing fruit. Ben Zaranko of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, notes that there are 13% more doctors - among them 10% more consultants - and 11% more nurses and 10% more clinical staff in the NHS than in 2019.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP