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'Multiyear' funding settlement to replace annual NHS budgets, says PM

The Prime Minister has said she is looking at a longer term, 'multiyear' NHS funding settlement, set to be finalised this year.

Theresa May yesterday said that the Government has to stop taking an 'annual approach' to the NHS budget.

She said that this was required in order for the NHS to plan sustainably for the long term and avoid needing 'top ups' to the budget.

Speaking in front of MPs on the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Ms May said: ‘We need to get away from this annual approach we see to the NHS budget.

'Recognise that for the NHS to plan and manage effectively we need to get away from those annual top ups of the budget that we see and we do need to have a sustainable long-term plan.

'And that, I think, should build on the work of the five-year forward view, but look beyond it and a plan which allows the NHS to realise greater productivity, to realise efficiency gains.'

Ms May added that the longer-term funding settlement could be expected imminently, as the NHS prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary this June.

She said: 'This is a critical priority for me, so this year and in advance of next year's spending review, I do want to come forward with a long-term plan... I would suggest that we can't afford to wait until next Easter. I think in this, the 70th anniversary year of the NHS's foundation we need an answer on this.’

Building on the Five Year Forward View - NHS England's first long-term plan for the health service, spanning 2015/16-2020/21 -  Ms May said that she wants the funding settlement 'to be done in conjunction with leaders of the NHS', with 'with clinicians and health experts'.

She added: '[The] Government will provide a multiyear funding settlement in support of the plan consistant with our fiscal rules and balanced approach but ensuring that the NHS can cope with the rising demand ahead of the spending review.'

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'We cautiously welcome the Prime Minister’s comments, which represent a long-awaited first step in recognising the pressing and long-term needs of an NHS suffering after years of underinvestment, leaving patient care compromised.

'However, we need to see the details of any plan before believing this will truly deliver on the rhetoric. As the NHS reaches its 70th birthday, the Government must work with organisations such as the BMA, which represents frontline doctors, to ensure any long-term funding plan is sustainable, meets the needs of patients and staff, and ensures safe and high-quality care for the next seven decades and beyond.'

The news comes as GPs are still waiting for the final decision on a funding uplift for 2018/19, despite 1 April coming up this weekend.

The BMA and Government have agreed on a 3.4% interim uplift to funding, which may rise following a recommendation from the independent Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration expected in May.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Vinci Ho

    Nine months ago , the biggest question hanging over Auntie May’s head was exactly how long her premiership would last and perhaps , who would be the next PM
    But then , one day of politics is too long as such that she probably now thought that she had a chance to lead her party up to the next general election in 2022.
    The acrimony and hostility of EU in the negotiations over Brexit might have lessened marginally , though volatility is still a caveat depending on how the hard core Brexiteers(the bas***ds in the words of John Major) would behave. The lastest fiasco of Cambridge Analytica certainly joined up all the dots into a line leading back to the credibility of the EU referendum results. Auntie May still had questions to answer, on behalf of the government,about Vote Leave’s overspending breaching the legislation during the referendum . But I think , deep down , she might be pleased that this could be a leverage to have more control on the bas***ds who had been stifling her leadership with shackles .
    The ‘gamble’ of throwing out 23 Russian diplomats as a swift response to the Salisbury Novichok attack , actually paid off with more widespread responses from NATO as well as America. Trump would be more than happy to dive in the midst of his own internal investigations on meddling with Russians in 2016 presidential election.
    With this windfall of ‘good fortunes’ in foreign affairs, it is time to turn to domestic issues . Top of the agenda is clearly health and social care . It was the latter which provided her the broken Achilles’ tendon in last year general election . Hence , the urge of a ‘fix’ is desperate.
    So what does that mean to those representing us ? As I wrote before, simply , the government needs us more than we need it . We clearly would not accept ambiguous, duplicitous rhetorics with no immediate sight of new resources (money , manpower , expertise and time) . The health secretary already changed tone and put forward the suggestion of a different taxation specially for funding NHS (as accordingly, being supported by majority of the public).The pressure is diverted back to the Treasury. The opposition party also jumps in with its proposal , as expected .
    As we are in the 70th year of NHS , I see this as an unique political circumstance and we should take advantage of this on negotiation table . Any deviation from our own vision of what NHS and general practice should be , will be met with non cooperation. Nothing more , nothing less .
    I know many will have doubts on those representing us but equality solidarity is what we need......

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  • 'multiyear'
    Another piece of meally mouthed governmental linguistic pish designed to obsuscate, mislead, and confuse.

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  • Why does common sense take so long to reach the upper recesses of power? Everybody knew for the last 25 years that an 'annual approach' to health services' budgets was insane. But no, the NHS had to be brought to its knees and almost go totally bust before action can be taken.

    We heard recently about an injection of £4 Billion per annum, which won't actually be seen until next year. I'm sorry - after strangling the health services to near death, we're now seeing rescue packages. This is like torture. The NHS and all its workers are victims of monetary waterboarding. Now we're given hope relief from the torture.

    Really - is this the way to treat all the people who your Mr Hunt lavishes so much praise upon? That too is part of the torture.

    I will remember not only the above patterns of conduct, but the torture delivered onto people who the health services provide for. Our masters will focus on the majority who receive high quality care. Does it mean that we should ignore the minority who have suffered? I don't think so!

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