The Government has announced plans to pass legislation that will protect the already promised £34bn NHS funding boost due by 2023/24.
In the Queen’s speech today (19 December), proposals were unveiled to enshrine the £20.5bn promised by former Prime Minister Theresa May – equivalent to an extra £33.9bn in cash terms – in law.
Addressing Parliament, the Queen said that the Government will take legal steps to ensure recurrent funding is unlocked on a yearly basis for the NHS.
She said: ‘For the first time, the national health service’s multi-year funding settlement, agreed earlier this year, will be enshrined in law.
‘Steps will be taken to grow and support the national health service’s workforce and a new visa will ensure qualified doctors, nurses and health professionals have fast-track entry to the United Kingdom. Hospital car parking charges will be removed for those in greatest need.’
At the start of the year, the Government said primary and community care would receive a £4.5bn funding boost by 2023/24 as part of the NHS long-term plan’s £20.5bn investment.
Re-elected prime minister Boris Johnson said last week that the NHS is his ‘top priority’ and that his ‘one nation’ Conservative government will ‘massively increase’ investment in the NHS.
Reforming business rates
The Government will also ‘bring forward changes to business rates’, the Queen added.
Gareth Jones, head of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), said: ‘We welcome any commitment from the Government to reduce the impact of business rates.
‘The current tax regime treats pharmacies differently from doctors and dentists, who both receive a rebate from the NHS for the business rates they pay.’
He added: ‘Pharmacies, whose activities mostly consist of providing NHS services, are being penalised for being at the heart of communities where they are needed most.
‘We will continue to advocate to the Government for more progress on this tax, which represents a significant burden for many of our members at a time of serious financial challenge.’
Re-confirmed health secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday (18 December) that the new Government will ‘unleash the potential’ of community pharmacy.