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Proroguing, Spending Review and NHS Expo

Proroguing, Spending Review and NHS Expo

9th September 2019

Good afternoon,

The last few weeks of parliament before summer recess ended with resignations and a new health cabinet. Secretary of State for Health and Social care, Matt Hancock kept his position and is joined by new colleagues, Chris Skidmore as Minister of Health, Jo Churchill as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care and Nadine Dorries as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety. Caroline Dinenage and Baroness Blackwood retained their positions.

Regarding money matters, Chancellor Sajid Javid delivered the Spending Review last week, setting out departmental budgets for the financial year 2020-2021. In health, these announcements included: £1.5bn for social care next year on top of the existing £2.5bn of social care grants; £250 million fund for a National Artificial Intelligence Lab to develop cutting-edge treatments for cancer, dementia & heart disease and; commitments of £6.2bn increase in spending for the NHS next year.

Responding to the Spending Review, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, Simon Stevens speaking at the Health and Innovation Expo last week said, “Today we have got a more realistic settlement for education and training budgets this year, but that is a down payment. We’ve got a HEE budget that will match NHS budget. That will need to be on a multi-year basis, it’s a first instalment rather than end of the line.”

It is unclear how the funding will be distributed in coming years as the details are limited to a one year review. It is also unclear if the money pledged will be taken from other health budget pots. After last year’s Autumn budget, the APHG heard from Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to analyse Government funding plans for the National Health Service. 

In other headlines over the summer break, Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE announced his plans step down at the end of March 2020. The APHG would like to thank Sir Andrew for his kind contributions to the APHG's workstream and for his tremendous efforts and contributions to healthcare. 

The Accelerated Access Collaborative have said that they will work with NHSX to set up an NHS AI Lab. The focus will be on evaluating and scaling proven technologies that improve care or free up staff time, maintaining the highest standards of data security and privacy.

The Health Foundation are working with Marmot review to explore why health inequalities are widening in England which the APHG is keen to learn more about after the Prevention roundtable we held in June.August saw to the 4 hour A&E waiting time rise by up to 35%, with experts citing that the winter pressures facing the NHS didn’t ease over the summer. Climate change has been taking the national by storm with Simon Stevens discussing it as a topical headline during NHS Expo last week. He said that “the climate emergency is a health emergency.’’ The NHS also declared a national emergency over shortage in IV tube feed supplies. The Department of Health and Social Care  launched new vaccines strategy following news that UK has lost its measles free strategy WHO has confirmed the UK has lost its ‘measles free’ status. Measles is one of the most infectious diseases at present and lots of research is underway to battle the rise in cases.

And finally, no news is complete without a mention of Brexit. The Royal College of Physicians have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 16 other leading health organisations, calling for the NHS and wider health and care system to be at the heart of Brexit negotiations. In a similar yet albeit stronger manner, The King's Fund, the Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust, write to government setting out the four biggest concerns facing healthcare in light of a No-Deal Brexit. These include (1) A risk of intensifying the staffing crisis (2) Shortages and price rises for vital supplies (3) The need to care for returning emigrants (4) Funding shortfalls at a time when health and care need it most.

Health Project Coordiantor - Marjan Jamal