Coronavirus money welcome, but services start in a deep hole – Nuffield Trust response to budget

Professor John Appleby responds to the Budget delivered today.

Press release

Published: 11/03/2020

Commenting on the 2020 Budget delivered today, Nuffield Trust Chief Economist Professor John Appleby said:

“The extra money pledged in the Conservative manifesto, and modest extra NHS capital spending, is good news. And the new £5 billion emergency fund for coronavirus will help the health service and social care to take immediate urgent measures, like buying protective equipment, covering overtime, and bringing in the private sector.

“But staff and space are the resources that will really be needed, and the NHS starts in a deep hole after a decade of underfunding and understaffing. With tens of thousands of nursing posts already vacant and beds full to capacity, what can the service usefully spend this money on? The decision to keep the extra money in the Treasury for now may also mean NHS managers hold back, out of fear that they won’t get what they spend refunded.

“The failure to announce any real action to overhaul social care is the elephant in the room. We are about to rely on these threadbare services to keep thousands of vulnerable patients out of hospital – and yet we still will not give them the funding and reform they have desperately needed for years. Coronavirus may serve as a reminder that inaction has consequences.”

Notes to editors

  1. Documents giving details of the Budget have been published by HM Treasury and can be seen here.
  2. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
  3. For all queries or to arrange an interview, please contact (0207 462 0538) or (020 7462 0552).