Philip Hammond should have addressed this in his Autumn Statementby Stephen Dorrell / November 30, 2016 / Leave a comment
The Autumn Statement provides an opportunity to begin to take stock of the implications for health and care services of the circumstances created by Brexit.
The background has, of course, not changed. There is still a welcome trend for people to live longer, with the result that the demands placed on the health and care system will continue both to grow and to change in ways which reflect the changing needs of the people they serve.
Although the implications of some of these changes inevitably involve uncertain forecasts, most of the trends are well established, and represent the day to day lived experience both of the citizens who use the services, and the staff who work in them.
Most obviously there is growing demand for the care and support services which enable people to live independent and fulfilling lives and reduce their experience of discomfort and ill-health.
None of this is the result of Brexit; the trends are well established, and they are reflected by similar trends in every comparable country.
The additional headwinds created by Brexit have however not helped. The prospect of slower economic growth, with the resulting pressure on public finances, has made it more difficult for the Chancellor to respond to well-documented spending pressures across the health and care system.
Furthermore, it is likely that Brexit will create some specific issues for the health and care system, in particular through the impact of tighter control of migration. As the largest employer in the economy of staff from elsewhere in the world, the health and care sector faces the prospect of significant additional pressures on both the cost and availability of staff, at a time when commissioners’ budgets and operators’ margins are already under pressure and capacity is falling.
Against this background it is surprising and disappointing that the Chancellor did not include any provision for the health and care sector in the £23bn additional spending commitments he made towards productivity improvement in the economy.
While each of the individual commitments he made through this programme is no doubt desirable in its own right, it is hard to believe that any of them offers the opportunity for productivity gain…