On Wednesday 8 March the Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP, delivered his first budget.
There were announcements about the NHS and social care in England and the Government confirmed it will press ahead with welfare plans that many had hoped would be shelved.
- £100 million to place more GPs in accident and emergency departments for next winter
- Additional £325 million to allow the first NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans to proceed
While we welcome an investment to improve services in A&E to address the well-reported shortcomings of last winter, it does nothing to tackle the underlying funding issues that are creating serious issues in the NHS in England.
Priorities for people with Parkinson's when in hospital include getting their medication on time and being supported to leave. However, this should only be facilitated when they are physically and mentally ready, with the right care package or mental health support in place.
We are also concerned at some of the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans being funded quickly. The plans are sets of proposals, created by the NHS and local Councils working together in 44 areas covering all of England, to improve health and care.
But there are still question marks over the impact these plans will have. We are aware of 17 areas in England where they are being used to schedule cuts to NHS Continuing Healthcare spend.
This could mean people with Parkinson's are forced into institutions against their will when their preference may be to receive care in their own home.
- Extra £2 billion over 3 years for adult social care in England
Extra money is certainly needed to plug the significant and growing gap in adult social care funding.
However, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services for England reports that £1.1 billion is needed each year just to sustain current levels of service.
This means that the money pledged is insufficient for all councils in England to provide for their local communities without further potential cuts and restrictions.
We are pleased that the Chancellor recognised the knock-on effect to our health services when social care is underfunded, however this investment will not allay these fears.
- The Government is proceeding with cuts to the amount of money that new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the work-related activity group will get from April 2017, as well as restricting access to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
It's gravely concerning that the Government has wasted the opportunity to reverse forthcoming cuts of a third, or £1500 per year for people in receipt of ESA and cuts to PIP which will mean 150,000 won't get any support at all.
This could make work even more difficult for people with Parkinson's and push some into poverty.
Our next steps
We will brief MPs and peers on the impact of the budget on people affected by Parkinson's so that they are prepared for the debates over the coming days.
We'll also raise our concerns with members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Parkinson's.
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