Osborne to hike NHS budget £3.8bn in 2016/17

Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to increase NHS funding £3.8bn in 2016/17 and by £10bn above inflation by 2020 as part of the spending review due on Wednesday.

The rise includes the £2bn uplift announced as part of the November 2014 autumn statement, which included funding from bank fines and DH back office savings and will be delivered in part through the primary care infrastructure fund and transformation fund.

A joint statement from the Treasury and NHS England says that £6bn of the £10bn funding will be 'frontloaded' by the end of the first year of the spending review. This includes the £3.8bn uplift in 2016/17, plus the £2bn announced already.

GP leaders welcomed the extra funding for the NHS, but warned that it must be used to bring general practice back towards the 11% share of the overall budget it received a decade ago.

The statement makes clear that the government remains fully committed to delivering seven-day NHS services by 2020, despite an official report that found very low interest in first-wave pilots of seven-day GP services across England.

Seven-day NHS

'By 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services in the evenings and at weekends,' the statement says. 'This will mean 5,000 extra doctors working in general practice, with £750m of investment. By 2018, there will be seven-day coverage in all key hospital services for half the population, rising to 100% by 2020.'

The Treasury also confirmed plans for £22bn of NHS 'efficiency savings' alongside the additional NHS spending - a target that many senior financial leads within the NHS believe is likely to be unachievable.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: 'This settlement is a clear and highly welcome acceptance of our argument for frontloaded NHS investment. It will help stabilise current pressures on hospitals, GPs, and mental health services, and kick start the NHS Five Year Forward View's fundamental redesign of care. In the context of constraints on overall public spending, our case for the NHS has been heard and actively supported.'

GP workforce

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'For doctors and nurses working harder than ever on the frontline this upfront investment means we can implement the NHS's own ambitious plan to transform services for the future. We are passionate about building an NHS that offers the safest, highest quality care anywhere in the world - with services smoothly operating seven days a week. This new money will help us finish the job.'

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: 'We welcome the government’s decision to meet the call made by Simon Stevens for major new investment in our health service.

'It is particularly significant that ministers have decided to front-load the new investment, as was urgently requested by Mr Stevens.'

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