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Hammond suggests NHS may receive cash boost

Published on 14/03/18 at 10:53am
IMAGE: Wikipedia/UK Department for International Development

The pressures on the NHS over the winter months exposed serious cracks in the service, with issues regarding underfunding, struggles to recruit enough staff and overcrowded hospitals all being widely reported.

The Chancellor of Exchequer, Philip Hammond, eventually released additional funds to the service in his Autumn budget, with an additional £2.8 billion provided to the service over the next two years, but there is still huge pressure on the service and calls for more cash are expected.

Pre-empting these calls, in an interview with the BBC, shortly after the Spring Statement was released, Hammond suggested that there may be room to free up more cash for the NHS in the next budget.

As part of the Spring Statement, The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) report on economic growth was cited in its prediction of growth to improve in 2018, up from 1.4% to 1.5%. Alongside this was the announcement that borrowing would fall through to the period 2022, from 2.2% of GDP in 2017 to 0.9%.

Speaking to the BBC, Hammond said: “The evidence is clearly there that our population is getting older, that technology is developing in a way that makes intervention possible and desirable in the health service, and that does represent a continuous upward pressure […] I hope that we will see an improvement in the public finances that were hinted at in today’s OBR report. I would hope that those would be carried through into the autumn report and that will allow us then to use some of that headroom to increase spending on our public services.”

One of the main reasons for the uptick in economic growth is the current strength of the global economy.

However, not everything was rosy in the OBR report, with growth for 2021 and 2022 downgraded. The office was also unable to form a clear picture of the economy post-Brexit due to the lack of clear guidelines on what deal the government is pushing for and expecting.

Ben Hargreaves

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