More good news announced at the Budget this week was additional funding for the NHS and social care. The NHS is the nation’s number one spending priority and at the Budget the Chancellor reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to ensuring the NHS has access to the long term sustainable funding to allow it to thrive.
Since 2016 the Government has continued to reduce debt while providing additional support for our public services. At last year’s Budget £6.3billion was invested in the NHS for frontline services and improving buildings and facilities. Locally, I was pleased that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Accident and Emergency department received £1million extra of Government funding last year to help improve the service and reduce handover delays.
Every year since 2010 NHS funding has risen and thanks to the difficult decisions taken by the Government, the economy is recovering, so we can now put even more money into our NHS. The fundamental point made by the Chancellor this week was that a strong economy means we can now look to invest.
So, in June the Government announced an unprecedented multi-year funding plan worth £20.5billion for our NHS and this was confirmed by the Chancellor this week.
The Chancellor gave more detail, particularly outlining a £2bn boost for mental health funding by 2023-24, to help the most vulnerable get the mental health support they need. The government is committed to achieving parity of esteem between mental health and physical health services, ensuring that high quality mental health support is available for those that need it, in appropriate, safe settings.
Funding for mental health services will grow as a share of the overall NHS budget over the next 5 years. These services will take pressure off Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and other public services such as the police, probation and social services.
The NHS will invest up to £250 million a year by 2023-24 into new crisis services, including: 24/7 support via NHS 111; children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country; comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E by 2023-24; more mental health specialist ambulances; and more community services such as crisis cafes. As you may be aware, locally here in Norwich a new crisis hub is due to open soon, which I welcome.
The NHS will also prioritise mental health services for children and young people, with schools-based mental health support teams and specialist crisis teams for young people across the country. For adults, the NHS will expand access to the Individual Placement Support programme to help those with severe mental illness find and retain employment, benefitting 55,000 people by 2023-24.
Some constituents write to me concerned about false claims that the NHS is being subtly privatised and I want to reassure constituents once again that this is not the case. The Government willnever privatise the NHS. Indeed at the Budget the Chancellor announced that he will abolish the use of PFI and PF2 for future projects to deliver value for the taxpayer. The Government will honour existing contracts, but the days of the public sector being a pushover must end.
Turning to social care, the government has already taken action to help secure a stable system of social care in England. The government has created the Improved Better Care Fund to help support health and social care integration, and introduced the new adult social care precept.
At Spring Budget 2017, the government provided an additional £2 billion for councils to spend on adult social care services. In the longer term, the government is committed to putting social care on fairer and more sustainable footing and will set out proposals for adult social care in a forthcoming green paper. I will, of course, keep you updated as to what this green paper entails when I receive more information.
In the short term, the Budget provides an additional £240 million in 2018-19 and £240 million in 2019-20 for adult social care. This will make sure people can leave hospital when they are ready, into a care setting that best meets their needs. This will help the NHS to free up the beds it needs over winter. We have already had the good news for us here in Norfolk that a further £4,178,678 will be available for adult social care in Norfolk this winter.
Local councils can also use this Budget to improve their social care offer for older people, people with disabilities and children. The Chancellor also announced provision for councils of an additional £55 million in 2018-19 for the Disabled Facilities Grant to provide home aids and adaptations for disabled children and adults on low incomes.
I know the NHS and social care are of vital importance for so many of my constituents and as your representative I welcome the news announced by the Chancellor this week. I will, of course, keep you up to date with further developments in the Government’s green paper on social care and continue my work in Parliament and at home to support the NHS that we all use in Norwich.