The NHS will get extra money – chancellor

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NHS services in England are to get extra money to help them deal with the growing pressures they are facing, the chancellor has announced.

He said there would be an immediate cash injection of £350m this winter.

That will be followed by an additional £1.6bn next year on top of the rise already planned in what he said was an "exceptional" measure given there is a five-year funding plan in place.

But experts questioned whether the money was enough to relieve pressure.

It comes after NHS England boss Simon Stevens called for extra money in a speech earlier this month.

He said the public expected increased investment following claims made during the EU referendum that the NHS would benefit financially from Brexit.

Mr Stevens argued without action waiting times for key services would continue to worsen.

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In total, Mr Hammond announced an extra £2.8bn of funding over the next three years.

  • £350m this year
  • £1.6bn in 2018-19
  • £850m in 2019-20

That is on top of the rises already set out by the government's spending plans made in 2015.

During these years the front-line budget was due to rise by £9bn in cash terms to nearly £116bn.

But, despite the latest announcement, the health service is still facing the tightest sustained financial settlement in its history.

Since 2010, the overall health budget – once other areas including training, regulation and healthy lifestyle programmes like stop smoking services have been factored in – has been growing by just over 1% a year on average once inflation is taken into account.

This compares to the 4% it has traditionally received.

Mr Hammond described the NHS as one of the country's "greatest institutions", but said he recognised it was "under pressure".

He said that was why he was taking the exceptional step of announcing extra funding outside of the formal spending review process.

"We will always back it," he told MPs.

He also said any pay rises for NHS staff next year – the 1% cap is being lifted – would not need to come from the front-line budget.

"Nurses deserve our deepest gratitude."

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents health service managers, said the extra money was still not enough.

He said "tough choices and trade offs" would not need to be made.

"It is difficult to see how the NHS can deliver everything," he added.

And in a tweet Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, said the Budget funding plan for the service was "worrying".

He said the chancellor's announcement plugged some but not all the gaps and that longer waits were "unavoidable".

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