Nuffield Trust response to the Autumn Statement

Natasha Curry responds to the Autumn Statement warning of a precarious situation for the NHS budget this year and next, and a worsening of financial stability for social care providers.

Press release

Published: 22/11/2023

Responding to the Autumn Statement, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Policy Natasha Curry said:

“With barely a mention for the NHS and social care in today’s Autumn Statement, it would seem the government is neglecting the gravity of the financial challenge facing health and care services.

“It is welcome to see new investment in mental health services over the next five years to help more people back into work, but as we have shown this week, the NHS budget is in a precarious state, currently staring down a £1.7bn deficit. To plug this gap the NHS has been forced to scale back additional efforts to clear record waits and initiatives to improve patient services.

This difficult balancing act looks set to continue. The NHS budget next year is set to flatline; it will be nearly £4bn below where it would have been if increases promised before Covid continued, which will deal a blow to planning and work on the productivity improvements the government wants to see.

“It is disappointing that there is no sign of desperately needed investment in the ailing social care system or progress on promised reforms such as the cap on care costs. The 10% rise to the national living wage will benefit a large proportion of social care staff, but with no additional funding there will be a huge impact on the ability of councils to pay already stretched providers. It is hard to see how this cost can be absorbed without pushing more care organisations out of business let alone make the improvements promised. This ultimately risks leaving more people unable to access the care and support they need.”

Notes to editors

  • 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
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