Spring budget: reaction

Nurses have labelled the spring budget as a 'missed opportunity', with the NHS failing to get the money it needs, and no mention of pay.
Janet Davies

Nurses have labelled the spring budget as a ‘missed opportunity', with the NHS failing to get the money it needs, and no mention of pay.

The promised investment in emergency department triage is a ‘sticking plaster’, says
RCN general secretary Janet Davies. Photo: Barney Newman

In his speech, Mr Hammond said the Conservatives were the ‘party of the NHS’, adding: ‘We have not just the commitment and the will, but also the economic plan which will secure the future of our most important public service.’

But RCN general secretary Janet Davies said the NHS was ‘chronically understaffed’ and called the promised investment in emergency department triage a ‘sticking plaster’.

Missed opportunity

‘The chancellor missed an opportunity to give the NHS the level of investment he knows it needs,’ she said.

She questioned the detail on £325 million capital funding for a selected number of Sustainability and Transformation Plans and called for assurances that the money would be ‘channelled into struggling community services’.

Ms Davies added: ‘If the government wants to properly support patients outside of hospitals and take care closer to home this needs to be organised in a way which integrates health and social care – and is properly funded.

‘The clinicians in A&E will need to have access to community services, including patients’ own GPs.

Not a magic bullet

‘Investment in social care may help hospitals to discharge patients when medically ready and better support older and vulnerable people in their own home, but it is not a magic bullet.

‘Hospitals and community services are chronically understaffed and nurses are working unpaid overtime to hold things together.

‘If we are to keep the best nursing staff working here and fill thousands of vacancies, the government must properly fund the NHS and scrap the pay cap.’

Nurse and Scrap the Cap campaigner Danielle Tiplady agreed the government had missed a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to offer nurses a pay rise.


‘And again the government chose not to listen to us. After months of us all campaigning, speaking out, sharing our stories of real hardship and trying to get pay on the agenda, we are once again ignored in the budget.' she said.

‘This upsets me. I know how hard we have worked and how hard my colleagues are finding it each day to get by on a salary that has so far lost 14% in real terms.’

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged Mr Hammond on the ommission of public sector pay and said the announcement of £2 billion more for social care over three years did little to address the £4.6 billion cuts made under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat parliament.

He said: ‘This was a budget of utter complacency about the state of our economy, utter complacency about the crisis facing our public services, and complacent about the reality of daily life for millions of people in this country.’

Short-term solution

The additional social care funding was welcomed by the King’s Fund and NHS Confederation, with the latter suggesting the government had ‘finally woken up’.

But King's Fund chief executive Chris Ham said it was a short-term solution, and called on the government to deliver on a promised Green Paper, warning 'we have been here before'.

The Patient's Association was critical of the deal for social care, saying the additional money is not the recurrent fund needed.

Chief executive Kathryn Murphy said: ‘Today’s budget has set the NHS and social care system on course for a continuing crisis in the coming years.

‘Overall, the chancellor seems to have fallen into the cycle of “crisis, cash, repeat” identified by the Institute for government last week.

‘Patients deserved better-planned and better-funded services than this.’

Further information

How does the budget affect nurses?