Does a ‘Brexit dividend‘ exist for the NHS?
Talk of a ‘Brexit dividend’ contributing to the boost in NHS funding promised by the government has been described as ‘tosh’ by an influential Tory MP.
Chair of the Health Committee Sarah Wollaston’s scathing description came in a tweet following Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech last week that promised an annual rise in funds of 3.4% for the NHS over the next five years, giving NHS England £20.5bn more a year by 2023/24. The funding, according to government, will come from a ‘Brexit dividend’ and ‘taxpayer contributions’.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says there is a firm commitment by the government to deliver the money. The funds do not begin until April 2019.
The Health Foundation think-tank and the BMA were quick to criticise the move as not making up for the lack of investment in the NHS over the past eight years. Since 2010 NHS funding has fallen well short of the historic average of 4%.
Since the announcement, and despite the scepticism on where the money will come from, NHS managers and think-tank analysts have speculated on what the cash boost should be spent on.
A survey of NHS finance directors, undertaken by the King’s Fund for its quarterly monitoring report, revealed they wanted the funding to go on services outside hospital, including social care and community health services.
The top three priorities of NHS trust finance directors and clinical commissioning group (CCG) were found to be:
- NHS trust finance directors: social care (chosen by 67% of respondents); community services (53%); mental health services (47%)
- CCG finance leads: general practice (79%); social care (65%); community services (65%)
British Medical Journal: NHS funding boost is ‘well short of what’s needed’ to improve care, BMA chair warns