HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 25 November 2016

No new money for health in autumn statement

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 24 November 2016


The Pharmaceutical Journal reports on Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Statement, where no extra funding for health care was announced. The UK Chancellor stated that “departmental spending plans set out in the spending review last autumn will remain in place”. The UK Government will review spending priorities in the next spending cycle. Charities and professional bodies criticised this lack of new funding, having warned that healthcare services are at a breaking point.


Outcomes of the Autumn Statement were also covered by Chemist and Druggist.


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No new money for health in autumn statement

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 24 November 2016


There was no new money for the NHS or social care announced in the autumn statement on 23 November 2016, despite warnings from the NHS and local government that services are at breaking point and evidence that a crisis in social services is heightening pressure on an already overburdened NHS.


UK chancellor Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that “departmental spending plans set out in the spending review last autumn will remain in place”.


“The government will review public spending priorities and other commitments for the next Parliament in light of the evolving fiscal position at the next spending review,” he said.


Commenting on the statement, Richard Murray, director of policy at the charity The King’s Fund, says: “The absence of new money for health or social care means that the already intense pressures on services will continue to grow. The lack of extra money for social care funding, in particular, means we are likely to see an already threadbare safety net stretched even more thinly.


“The government will also need to look again at health funding in future,” he adds. “The planned increases in health spending are not enough to maintain standards of care, meet rising demand and transform services.”


Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, a membership body for organisations that commission and provide NHS services, says: “The Treasury has missed a golden opportunity to ease the strain on the NHS. While the government is right to review long-term spending plans, social care services are in crisis right now. Our staff delivering services on the frontline this winter will find it extraordinary that the Government has turned a blind eye to the stresses and strains being felt in the health and social care system.


Lord Porter, chair of the Local Government Association, also says social care services “are at breaking point”.


The thrust of the chancellor’s autumn statement was to prioritise additional high-value investment, specifically in infrastructure and innovation, that will directly contribute to raising Britain’s productivity.


Hammond confirmed additional investment in research and development, rising to an extra £2 billion per year by 2020–2021.


Mike Thompson, chief executive of the trade body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, comments: “The chancellor has given us an autumn statement that delivers for science and innovation and emphasises the importance of the UK pharmaceutical industry to the strength of our economy.”


Autumn statement delivers one detail to ‘cushion the blow’

Chemist and Druggist, 24 November 2016


No short-term benefits for pharmacists in the autumn statement, but one detail might help “cushion the blow” for contractors, a pharmacy accountant has said.

In his first autumn statement as chancellor, Philip Hammond announced yesterday (November 23) that growth will fall below previous predictions, while inflation will rise over the next two years. The government “will no longer aim for a budget surplus” over the course of this parliament, he added.


He also referred to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast that the national debt will increase to £220 billion in the next four years, as a result of Brexit.


Politicians and commentators people took to Twitter to question why there was no mention of the NHS in the chancellor’s 72-page statement.


Pharmacy accountant Umesh Modi, partner at Silver Levene LLP, told C+D that while the government has previously made a claim that £10 billion more will go into the NHS, “this is refuted by many as fudge”.


“Even if it is true, I haven’t read anywhere that it will benefit pharmacy contractors,” he added.


However, Mr Modi said that in Mr Hammond’s statement – delivered just over a week before the 12% cut to pharmacy funding in England comes into force on December 1 – there might be something to help “cushion the blow” of the chancellor’s budget plans.


“The confirmation of reduced corporation tax rate to 17% from April 2020 is welcomed, as is the commitment to increase personal allowances,” he said. “This will help contractors cushion the tax blow on dividends introduced from April of this year.”


No real surprises


Mr Modi said there were “no real surprises” in yesterday’s statement, but he warned “the commitment to increase expenditure on investment and to abolish the plans to balance the books over the lifetime of this parliament will almost certainly result in more taxes at a later stage”.


Richard Murray, The King’s Fund director of policy – who is currently leading an independent review of pharmacy services in England – said the government “needs to look again at health funding in future”.


“The absence of new money for health or social care means that the already intense pressures on services will continue to grow,” he said. This is likely to “peak” in 2018-19 and 2019-20, when there is “amost no planned growth” in NHS funding, he added.


Pharmacy Voice said it is “disappointed, if not surprised” that the chancellor failed to mention primary care.


“We will continue to press home the opportunities pharmacy offers in improving public health and reducing pressure on the public purse through the commissioning of services, as outlined in the Community Pharmacy Forward View,” it added.

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