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Health Insight April 2001: Budget boost for NHS


Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in his budget speech that the NHS would be receiving a further £1bn over the next three years. Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn later announced details of how the £835m which will go to the NHS in England will be spent. Every acute NHS trust in the country will receive up to £1.5m each year during that period, and a £135m fund will be set up to recruit more 'front-line' staff. There will also be more money for GP services.

Healthcare workers have welcomed the increased funding but Christine Hancock, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, commented, 'Pay is still a key factor in improving nurse recruitment and we'd like to see this new money targeted at continuing the trend of above-inflation pay increases.' Stephen Thornton, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation said, 'This is good news for many of our ageing hospitals… It will also enable hospitals to invest in much needed new medical equipment.' He added, however, 'Our only disappointment is that the cost of tobacco products is only rising in line with inflation, remembering that smoking is one of this country's biggest killers.' Sir George Alberti, President of the Royal College of Physicians said, 'These are steps in the right direction, but many more steps will be needed before we have a health service of which we are proud.'

This year's rise in NHS funding follows the Chancellor's pledge a year ago that there would be big increases over the next four years. Last year he announced that funding for the NHS in the year 2000-2001 would rise to £54.2bn - £2bn more than previously planned.

Tax credits for research and development companies were also announced in the budget, a move welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Sources: Press release (DoH), BBC Online

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