Johnson warned to invest in the NHS

Author: Mark Gould
Johnson warned to invest in the NHS

As the government has announced plans to set aside some £434m to ensure continuity of vital medicines and medical products in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the NHS Confederation has warned that greater investment in the NHS should be at the top of Boris Johnson's priority list.

The new money, part of a £2.1bn no-deal contingency package, will cover freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling. In a letter and briefing to the prime minister, the Confederation calls on Mr Johnson to ensure that patients do not suffer as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union. "Protecting the medical supply chain, honouring reciprocal healthcare agreements and establishing workforce agreements will be key", it says.

The main thrust of the letter and briefing sets out that as well as supporting the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan the government must deliver extra investment for new buildings and infrastructure, social care and addressing major gaps in NHS staffing.

While the NHS is to receive a £20.5bn funding settlement that kicked in from April this year to deliver the Plan the Confederation says its success will also depend on new cash for capital spending, training and education budgets, public health and social care. "Failure to address these in the next spending review will put the delivery of the Plan in jeopardy," it warns.

And the Confederation says the staffing challenge has been exacerbated by a mounting pensions crisis that has resulted in many senior NHS doctors receiving large tax bills and deciding not to take up extra shifts. This is contributing to lengthening waiting times for patients – a situation that will only become worse as we head toward winter. The NHS Confederation welcomes the new prime minister’s recognition of this challenge and commitment to find a solution.

The Confederation also welcomes the early commitment to investing in capital projects, including upgrading 20 hospitals. Capital funding has been raided in recent years, leaving a damaging maintenance backlog and a lack of investment in new buildings and equipment such as scanners that are urgently required.

The organisation strongly welcomes the prime minister’s personal commitment to finding a solution to the crisis in social care that is leaving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people unable to receive the vital care and support they need. The NHS Confederation Leads Health for Care, a coalition of 15 national health organisations, is campaigning for a sustainable social care system, backed up by a long-term financial settlement. It is calling for a cross-party solution to help deliver a solution that will last for a generation.