Funding for mental health services will grow as a share of the overall NHS budget and the government will focus on preventative public health services, Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged in his Budget 2018 speech.
But when presenting the Budget to the House of Commons on 29 October 2018, Hammond gave little detail on how promised extra funding for the NHS would be spent.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said that with additional NHS funding already announced, the government must now set out how the money will be allocated as part of the NHS long-term plan.
“Supporting public health and prevention, investing in education and training, and ensuring patients and the NHS receive the most benefit from medicines must be prioritised,” she said.
“Additional investment in mental health is welcome but this should also be targeted at support for people before they reach crisis point.
“As the third-largest health profession, pharmacists working across the NHS can play a key role in closing the gap between people’s physical and mental health.”
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, agreed that little detail about future health funding had been revealed during the budget announcement, stating: “It is clear that prevention, and how we can reduce demand for services and help people to live longer, healthier lives, remains a key focus.
“Community pharmacies have the potential to contribute much of value in this area, acting as health and wellbeing hubs on local high streets, and we will continue strongly to make the case for that.”
In the Budget, Hammond also announced that business rates would be cut by a third for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, and that a ‘Future high streets fund’ worth £675m would be allocated to councils to help transform local high streets.
“The reduction in business rates may bring welcome relief for some smaller community pharmacy businesses and we were also pleased to note [the] funding to help transform local high streets,” Dukes said.
In June 2018, the prime minister Theresa May announced that NHS funding would grow on average by 3.4% in real terms each year from 2019/2020 to 2023/2024, equivalent to an extra £394m per week. May added that Hammond would set out the specific details “in due course”.