The UK Government released its Autumn-budget and Spending Review for 2021 last month, alongside a message of “rising productivity” for “post-COVID” Britain. This included an additional 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy for many taxpayers from April 2022, with a planned £12 billion increase to government spending on health & social care.
Many are critical of the budget, including North Wales Healthcare assistant, Rhian Evans, who claims that an increased health & social care budget will not likely have the desired outcome without an increase to the NHS staff numbers,
“With the lack of staff, nurses and doctors, the NHS will deflect the patients to local authorities (and) the private sector as they will not be able to manage the demand for those that need to be seen or cared for.”
“A lot of people cannot afford to be cared for in homes within the private sector, so they will have no other choice but to sell their houses,” She added, expressing concern that the poorest in society will be the most affected by the shortage of health workers.
She also explained that the staff shortage would mean any additional funding the NHS might receive from increased public spending would quickly be absorbed by the private sector, “A shortage of staff also means that the NHS has to bring agencies to work for them, which are a lot more expensive.”
A report by the Health Foundation in 2020 said that “the government will need to exceed its target of 50,000 new nurses in England by 2024/25 if it wants the NHS to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Positive highlights of the budget announcement included that the UK economy was set to return to “pre-COVID” levels by the end of 2021, and that next year’s unemployment rate was predicted to peak at around 5%, less than half of what it was initially forecasted as during the pandemic.