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NHS may see real-terms funding cut despite budget boost

Real-terms spending on NHS may decrease despite promises of extra billions in the Autumn Budget.

This is according to a note, published by the House of Commons Health Committee, which said inflation and population growth may cancel out any real-terms benefit to the health service.

The Autumn Budget, announced on Wednesday, saw the Government pledge new funding worth £6.3bn, including £2.8m for the day-to-day running of the NHS over the next three years and £3.5bn of capital funding – to go towards NHS infrastructure and efficiency programmes – by 2022/23.

The analysis, by the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit, said that including funding announced in the budget, the total increase year on year is due to be 3.5% this year, 2.9% in 2018/19 and 2.0% in 2019/20.

It added: ‘When adjusted for population growth in England the year on year increases in health spending per person are lower: 2.7%, 2.1% and 1.3% respectively. These increases are similar to forecast measures of inflation over the next 2-3 years.

‘Whether or not health spending per person increases or reduces in real terms over the next 2-3 years depends on the actual level of inflation and which measure is used.’