Government cuts £330m from NHS budget

The government has also restated its objectives for the NHS, including tackling public health, recruiting more nurses and achieving net zero targets by 2040

4th April 2022 about a 3 minute read
"As well as building back better, we must also build back greener." The Government's 2022-23 mandate to NHS England, DHSC

The government has reduced the NHS revenue budget for 2022-23 by £330m.

HSJ has reported that the treasury refused to fund the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for additional Covid costs. The budget was £330m lower than the sum agreed in the 2021 spending review, and after other adjustments such as for increased employer pensions costs.

In March, HSJ reported that NHS England’s chief finance officer Julian Kelly told the organisation’s public board meeting that it had been asked to reduce its spending plans by £500m to help make up the difference in the wider DHSC budget. It was likely to mean slowing down planned improvements in technology, prevention and innovation, he said.

A DHSC spokesman told HSJ: “The government has set out its mandate and funding for NHS England for the year ahead, which will help us recover services impacted by the pandemic. The government is committed to tackling the Covid backlog, and we have already invested £2 billion this year to support the NHS’ elective recovery, plus an extra £8 billion over the next three years.”

As well as providing funding details, the NHS England Mandate and final budget for 2022-23, published on 31 March, restates 13 priorities for the NHS, including 50,000 more nurses working for the NHS, 50 million more appointments in general practice per year and 26,000 more staff in additional roles and 40 new hospitals. Other less specific priorities include continuing to improve outcomes for major diseases and long-term conditions and accelerating action on reducing stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and serious brain injury.

Taking action against heart disease

The mandate lists five top-level objectives:

  • Managing the impact of Covid
  • Recovering and maintaining non-Covid service delivery
  • Renewing delivery of the long-term plan and other government commitments
  • Population health and prevention
  • Effective leadership, culture and structural change

Covid-19, the document says, “has underlined the need for the Government to take broader action on preventable ill health.” The NHS long-term plan, it adds, “recognises that cardiovascular disease is the single biggest area where the NHS can save lives over the next ten years, since it causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK.”

As part of its population health objective, the document makes a commitment to achieving climate change goals: “As well as building back better, we must also build back greener.” In 2022-23, it states, NHS England “should continue to deliver against the ambitious targets set out in its Delivering a Net Zero NHS, taking action to decarbonise the NHS at every level of the system.” This will include “working towards its interim target of reducing the NHS carbon footprint by 80% (compared to 1990) by 2028-32 and remaining on track to achieve Net Zero by 2040.”

The document states that an update to the NHS Long Term Plan, which will include revised delivery expectations for relevant commitments, will be published in summer 2022. The update “will set out realistic goals for NHS Long Term Plan delivery, incorporating a degree of local flexibility that recognises the role of Integrated Care Boards.”