Budget 2020: Extra £5 billion for the NHS to combat COVID-19

  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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Eight patients with coronavirus have now died in hospitals in the UK. The two latest cases announced today were older patients with underlying health conditions, one at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, the other at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

The latest UK figures came as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his first Budget, which commentators said suggested the Government was serious about the threat posed by the coronavirus.

However, health experts said the Chancellor's measures fell short of long-term solutions to fix the health and social care systems. He also made income threshold announcements to help solve the doctors' pensions crisis.

The Budget's headline announcement was a £30 billion "fiscal stimulus" to combat the effects of the virus, of which £5 billion was earmarked to support the NHS and other public services.

Additionally the NHS could expect £6 billion in new money over the lifetime of this Parliament, the Chancellor pledged.

The NHS would get the resources it required, he said. "Whether it's research for a vaccine, recruiting thousands of returning staff, or supporting our brilliant doctors and nurses…

"…whether its millions of pounds or billions of pounds…

"…whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS."

The Royal College of Physicians described the Budget as a "missed opportunity". Its president, Andrew Goddard, said: "Doctors are working incredibly hard under enormous pressure but their situation will not improve until the whole system – health, social care, and public health - gets the funding it needs."

Prof John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust, agreed that "failure to announce any real action to overhaul social care is the elephant in the room".