The new parliament was called on Thursday 19 December, following the General Election. Boris Johnson has unveiled his plans, and they are dominated by Brexit and the NHS.
The Government have pledged to enshrine in law, a commitment on the National Health Service’s funding, with an extra £33.9 billion per year provided by 2023/24.
The commitment amounts to 3.4% year-on-year increase in expenditure, which is an increase on what was available under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government, but is lower than what has been seen in previous years with Labour.
The NHS has been under increasing pressure over recent years, with NHS workers being asked to work longer hours causing them stress as they battle to treat and care for the increasing number of patients. Further investment is crucial to ensure there are enough facilities and workers to meet the increasing demand.
Dr Nick Scriven, for the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The NHS is under the most pressure it has ever seen and quite how we will get through the next few weeks and months remains to be seen. We need to urgently support our staff throughout the NHS as they are reaching the stage of utter exhaustion after more than two years of unrelenting and increasing stress and workload.”
“Promises or commitments of investment today will not make up for years in a matter of months, which is what would be needed to get us through the winter period safely. It is the bare minimum.”
Prior to the election the Conservative Party pledged to deliver more doctors and nurses in the NHS. The government now need to share their plan on how to increase staffing levels to ensure that patient safety is not compromised.
Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund, said: “The Government has promised more money for the NHS but a credible plan to increase the workforce is also urgently needed. Even then, it will take time to stabilise services and patients will unfortunately continue to wait longer to receive the care that they need.”
Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: “We need to be realistic about what this funding will buy and what the public should expect.”
“This investment will maintain standards at their current level, but the service needs additional real investment to meet the needs of the future and deliver the improvements we all want to see. If, as we fear, expectations exceed reality, we risk creating a damaging blame game which sets the NHS and its staff up to fail and lets patients and the public down.”