The NHS is to receive an increased budget from £90 billion this year to £110 billion by 2010-11, an increase of 4%, the Chancellor announced on Tuesday.

The additional investment should help the service realise savings of around £8.2 billion by 2010–11 with new technology helping to contribute to this.

A £100m innovation fund is to be created by the DH to help the NHS develop and deploy hi-tech healthcare such as medical devices and diagnostics.

The Chancellor Alistair Darling said: “Following the interim Darzi review, this investment will enable the delivery of the government’s vision of an NHS that is fair, personalised, effective, safe and locally accountable.”

Smart use of technology was a strong theme in Lord Darzi’s review.

The fund will be controlled by a new Health Innovation Council, to be chaired by health minister, Lord Darzi, with participation from bodies including NICE, the Wellcome Trust and the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research

In his 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), Alistair Darling, writes: “The 2007 CSR will also enable the NHS to deliver outcomes for patients that are among the best in the world – saving more lives and improving the quality of life. To achieve this, a new Health Innovation Council is set to be set up to increase innovation across the NHS.

“Reducing unnecessary variations in productivity across the NHS by spreading new technologies and best practice across the NHS could potentially generate net cash-releasing savings of around £500m per year by 2010-11.”

The Chancellor has pledged a more personalised NHS by “providing greater choice and convenience for patients by improving GP access, with £250 million for 150 new walk-in health centres open 7 days a week from 8 until 8, and over 100 new GP practices in the areas with the poorest provision.”

Also included in the CSR is funding for local authorities, which provide adult social services.

The Chancellor has promised to help patients with long term conditions to live independently.

“We are committed to providing better support for those with long-term illnesses to live independently and control their own condition, including by moving towards a care plan for every person with a life-limiting illness.

“Growth in the Department of Health’s social care funding, which directly supports new policy initiatives, will increase by £190 million, taking it to £1.5 billion by 2010-11. This funding will enable local authorities to build on progress already made in developing personalised services that give people and their carers greater choice and control over the way in which their needs are met.”

There is no mention of the National Programme for IT or Connecting for Health in the 286 page document.

Referring to telecare, however, he writes: “In the long term, increasing life expectancy and lifestyle changes pose additional challenges. Future technological developments need to be grasped to further improve the quality of life people are able to enjoy. After a decade focused on expansion and reform, the levers are now in place to lock in sustained productivity improvements to ensure further advances are delivered with value for money to the taxpayer.”

The increase in NHS spending comes as Darling warned parliament in his first pre-budget report that economic growth would be 2.0 to 2.5% next year, saying the country faced ‘increased international economic uncertainty and a more fragile global environment’.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, said: “The Chancellor has got off to a good start with his crackdown on loopholes and dodges that allow the super rich to get away with not paying their fair share. This money should be earmarked to keep-up the investment levels in our public services initiated by Gordon Brown.

“The record investment in our public services has enabled us to deliver real improvements in our schools and hospitals. We are glad that the Chancellor has not lost his nerve and slammed the brakes on public service investment. The additional funds for the NHS will help see through health modernisation plans and prevent a return to the financial deficits dogging many health trusts in the recent past.”


Darzi pledges IT review

2007 Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review