Money talks: how the Chancellor’s budget is putting health and social care at risk – by Chris Askew

Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond in his autumn budget, announced an extra £2.8bn funding for the NHS over the next three years.

It’s a significant amount of money of course, but it falls significantly short of what’s needed to stop the worrying decline of our health and social care services.

Ahead of the budget, The Richmond Group of Charities – of which Diabetes UK is part – last week set three tests the Chancellor’s budget needed to meet to stop this decline:

1. Reverse the decline of access to timely and high quality health and social care
2. Ensure that there are sufficient numbers of health and care staff to give the compassionate care everyone deserves
3. Treat public health, the NHS, and social care as one system

15 million people in UK affected by lack of funding

The Chancellor’s budget – in truth – meets none of these tests. A recent fiscal report from the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation declared that £4bn was needed for next year alone to guarantee the delivery of timely, safe and dignified health and social care.

What’s particularly worrying is that the Chancellor’s budget did not address in any way the immense pressures building up in the social care system. Without recognising that the health system and the social care system depend on each other, there’s a very real risk that as our social care system is further restricted by cuts, this will in turn further impact on the ability of the NHS to deliver.

The Richmond Group represents more than 15 million people across the UK who live with chronic and long-term medical conditions, all of whom are affected by a lack of funding.

One in four people not getting adequate care

Among them is Kate Baumber who, after 40 years with Type 1 diabetes, has been able to revolutionise her life through the use of a Continuous Glucose Monitor. However, as this technology is not available on the NHS where she lives, Kate has to self-fund.

It’s expensive, and as such is unsustainable. If she cannot afford to keep self-funding, she’s going to have to completely rethink how she lives her life, if she’s to continue safely managing her diabetes. This is clearly not good enough.

Our health and social care systems aren’t perfect, but without proper funding and reformation, the fundamental problems that mean people like Kate – and the one in four of us living with a long-term or chronic condition – don’t get the care or treatment they deserve, are not going to be solved.

The real challenge the Chancellor has failed to realise is that fixing the issues that continue to fracture our health and social care services will cost a significant amount of money. But the human cost; the cost to people’s lives, is something we cannot afford to ignore.

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