Ministers have received a stark warning from health service leaders who claim the NHS will have to start cutting crucial services unless £8 billion in funding is received within days. They have also accused the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, of breaking a pledge he made last year to give the NHS whatever it needed to deal with the pandemic.
When the first wave of the pandemic swept the nation, the chancellor appeared on TV pledging to give the NHS whatever it needed to fight Covid. However, NHS leaders are now accusing him of breaking this promise, adding that Mr Sunak's pledge “has not translated into budget certainty for the coming financial year.”
According to bosses, hospitals will be unable to deal with the vast backlog of surgeries and treatments resulting from the pandemic without additional funding.
It was recently revealed that the number of people waiting more than a year for surgery had rocketed, although NHS waiting lists were not yet as high as some had predicted. However, hospitals are now expecting a surge in delayed referrals, which many say they cannot handle unless the £8 billion extra funding is distributed within a matter of days.
A letter to the chancellor
The Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, Danny Mortimer, has written to Mr Sunak. In his letter, he has made it clear that NHS services will suffer without additional funding. With just a couple of weeks left until the end of the current financial year, Mortimer has urged the Treasury to prioritise the matter.
In the letter, Mortimer wrote, “We are just 17 days away from the new financial year and yet the NHS has still not got a finalised budget in place.” He added, “Should the Treasury’s budget discussions with the NHS fail to conclude this week, then we face the very real prospect of some services, particularly in the first few months of the new financial year, having to cut back.”
Money needed to deal with pandemic fallout
According to NHS leaders, the extra £8 billion is needed on top of the standard allocated budget for 2021-22. The main budget put aside for the NHS is to cover day-to-day costs, but this additional £8 billion would help cover the cost of the pandemic fallout. This includes the cost of PPE, Covid testing, and enhance measures to control infection.
The chancellor revealed his 2021-22 budget earlier this month and shockingly awarded no increase in NHS income for the coming financial year. In his financial statement last autumn, however, he granted an extra £3 billion to deal with treatment and surgery backlogs as well as mental health services.