UK Gov releases funding plans for tackling NHS backlog and support for social care staff

The UK Government has published its latest plans for health and social care, focusing on how it will help tackle the NHS backlog, as well as funding to support the social care workforce.

Entitled ‘Building Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care’, the paper also covers the capping of adult social care costs and funding plans through the new Health and Social Care Levy.

The 35-page report sets out the government’s aims for the future of the health and adult social care sectors, stating that it “will provide significant new investment – reducing long waits for the tests and treatment that people need.”

The government says it will tackle the elective backlog as part of “the biggest catchup programme in the NHS’s history” and will spend £2 billion this year, which is double its previous commitment, to do so.

It also plans to spend “more than £8 billion in the following three years from 2022-23 to 2024-25”, adding that the £9 billion it is putting in now, plus the £1 billion that was included in the 2020 Spending Review, “could deliver the equivalent of around nine million more checks, scans and procedures” and “mean the NHS in England can aim to deliver around 30 per cent more elective activity by 2024-25.”

The government will also establish a new £250 million Elective Recovery Technology Fund, which it hopes will provide “cutting edge technologies” and funding to increase operating theatre capacity and productivity in hospitals.

Another innovation-related development of note in the plans is the announcement of a “new £50 million research, innovation and collaboration fund”, administered by the Department for Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office, which will be established to “help improve health outcomes across the whole of the UK, particularly where they are weakest.” The fund will support research and healthcare institutions to collaborate, share best practice and develop “new innovative approaches”.

In terms of the Health and Social Care Levy, which will be funded by rises in national insurance contributions for employees and employers by 1.25 per cent and a rise in dividends tax, the document states that it “makes available investment of around £12 billion per year on average for health and social care across the UK over the next three years”. In 2024-25, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also “benefit from an additional £1.1 billion, £700 million and £400 million respectively, which includes UK-wide spending such as vaccines”.

Wider support for the social care system will include investing at least £500 million in three new measures to support the workforce. These include: providing professional development support, “hundreds of thousands of training places” and certifications for care workers; funding mental health and wellbeing resources for staff, through services like “counselling, peer-to-peer coaching and workplace improvements”; and introducing “further reforms” to improve recruitment and support for the social care workforce.

Read the Building Back Better plans in full, here.