This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

GPs go forth

The budget offers nothing to ease the pressures on the NHS

Dr Kailash Chand

In 35 years of listening to budget statements I have rarely heard one that had so little content to ease critical state of the NHS finances in general, and for general practice in particular. The NHS is at breaking point but no mention of further funding in the Chancellor’s budget. Osborne is offering nothing to ease the pressure on the NHS and only false promises for the future.

This budget will worsen the wealth divide and the health divide

The headline announcement of the budget statement - the rabbit that Osborne pulled from his mottled hat - was a levy on sugar. Most of the £520m raised in the first year will be used to boost school sports activities. Though it is a welcome step in the fight against childhood obesity, none of this disguises the fact that the Conservatives broke their promise to grow NHS spending in real terms every year. NHS funding almost froze after 2010 (rising by only 0.7% per year compared to the long term average of 3.7% per year). ‘Efficiency targets’, a pseudonym for funding cuts, brought NHS hospitals and general practice to their knees. Significant cuts in social care and district nursing budgets have led to increasing hospital activity, a critical shortage of hospital beds and a crisis in primary care. As a percentage of GDP, UK healthcare spending (8.5% of GDP) has fallen even further below the average for OECD countries. The chancellor also revealed that employers will have to contribute an extra £2bn to public sector pensions. The Nuffield Trust rightly warned that this could cost the NHS £650m in 2019-20 and 2020-21. The real terms increase in health funding planned for 2019-20 was already very low, so if the additional pensions cost isn’t matched with extra funding in that year it will be experienced as a real terms funding cut and make life very difficult for self-employed GPs and the NHS trusts.

George Osborne’s budget was an application to be next Tory leader - ’Elect me & I’ll turn UK into the dog-eat-dog tax haven you all dream of’. But Mr Osborne gave three separate tax cuts to the rich. CGT, corporation tax, and business tax. Meanwhile, he cut funding for the disabled and vulnerable in the society by £4.2bn. This budget will worsen the wealth divide and the health divide. It’s a shameful assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Welfare cuts will indirectly put more pressure on the hard pressed GP services and the NHS.

In their daily lives, people care about quality of life, relationships, and communities, mental and physical health. And yet, it’s almost viewed as weakness to talk about politics in anything other than the most hard line economic terms. Between that disparity and the unedifying jeers from politicians as the Chancellor made his budget statement, is there any wonder people are disillusioned with mainstream politics? We are in desperate need of a budget that improves the state of the NHS. Hospitals and GP practices around the country are at breaking point and need urgent, extra investment to maintain even basic care to their patients. George Osborne made clear that while he remains Chancellor of the Exchequer, any hopes will not be fulfilled by him.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is the deputy chair of the BMA, and a retired GP


Rate this article  (5 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (8)

  • There are two ways you can tell what a man cares about: how he spends his time, and how he spends his money. Whatever his mouth says, look at those, and you'll know what really matters to him - be he chancellor or not.

    Focus on the three things he cut tax on, and build a healthcare provision around them.They are the things he will feed. He has made obvious that he plans to starve public services and those who need them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Health and social care do not create any GDP. In fact they are a drain on GDP. Therein lies the reason why funding will continually be decreased

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Think more third world health care in the future.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Of course if you have the money you can see and have whatever you want.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • kailash, the government is broke, it simply hasn't got billions extra to give to the nhs.

    Our biggest problem is not the lack of money, it's that you and the others in the GPC/BMA cannot understand that the govt is broke and you just keep bleating on about something that is never going to happen.

    General practice is not being killed by lack of govt money, it is being killed because you and your colleagues refuse to get your heads out of your delusional sand and come up with alternative plans for GPs that recognise the reality of the environment we are in.

    Kailash, I charge you and your GPC/BMA colleagues as being the real enemy of general practice for your refusal to accept reality and come up with the lifeboats.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Evolution is not the survival of the fittest, it is survival of those that can adapt to a changing environment.

    The GPC is refusing to adapt to the new environment and thus it is the GPC that will ensure the extinction of general practice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Maybe the Govt is broke. It needs 4 trident submarines urgently. It needs to intervene in other countries internal affairs because they are awful. So, how many countries are we going to sort out, when we cannot treat our sick or educate our young ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Of course many people will say "why not raise taxes instead of borrowing more or introducing copayments." The answer is that parties that raise taxes do not win elections.

    My view is that the Government is deliberately putting pressure on NHS workers and wants the BMA and nursing unions to support copayments as the solution.That way blame is not put on government(s). And I do mean all Government parties. Despite what you might think the Labour Party understands that healthcare, funded purely through taxes or borrowing, will become unaffordable in the future for the reasons given.

    The BMA should support copayments, but state clearly the reasons why it is the only solution for the future of healthcare delivery. We all know that this is a difficult thing for the BMA to do. However it is the only solution.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say