- Hugh Alderwick, director of policy
- Health Foundation, London, UK
The UK’s new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, set out the government’s latest plans for tax and spending in the autumn statement on 17 November.1 UK public finances are being hit by weak growth—the economy is now shrinking and projected to end this parliament no bigger than it started—and high interest rates.2 Hunt, who was previously the NHS’s longest serving health secretary (from 2012 to 2018), told the country that “difficult decisions” were needed3 but provided some top-up funding for the NHS and social care.
Overall health spending will now grow by 1.2% a year in real terms over the next two years—less than in the decade before the pandemic (2% a year) and much less than the long term average (3.8%). Spending on the NHS will grow faster (2%) but still falls short of the growth needed to keep up with increasing demand for services and deliver pre-pandemic levels of care.4
Just how short the NHS will be depends on how you calculate what the service can …