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Budget Sees Chancellor Call Out the Role of HealthTech as a Productivity Solution

Topic : News and Press Type : Briefing

Today, the Chancellor presented the 2024 Spring Budget to the House of Commons.

Included within the announcement was a £6 billion investment for the NHS, with £3.4 billion dedicated to enhancing productivity through the expansion of artificial intelligence in clinical diagnosis and administrative functions. This initiative promises to include upgrades to MRI scanners, signifying a progressive step towards integrating innovative technology for the betterment of patient care and support for the clinical workforce. We await details on the implementation, but the recognition of HealthTech's potential to support productivity in healthcare, and the requirement for greater capital funding to do so, is welcome.

Whilst discussing public sector productivity reform, the Chancellor also noted that Government "will prioritise proposals that deliver annual savings within 5 years equivalent to the total cost of investment required". Though we will need to await how this may, or may not be applied in the NHS, it is at minimum a step towards acknowledging the in-year cash releasing requirements you currently face are ineffective at releasing the full benefits of technology. We will be discussing this with officials in the coming weeks.

As part of funding announcement, the Chancellor announced that all hospitals will transition to electronic patient records, positioning the NHS as "the world’s largest digitally integrated healthcare system", alongside an acceleration of the Federated Data Platform (FDP). This shift towards digital transformation is something we have long advocated for and we are pleased to see this progress. Additionally, enhancements to the NHS app and the launch of a new app for NHS staff were announced.

Of the total £6 billion figure, £2.5 billion is allocated for the NHS's operational funding in England for the fiscal year 2024-25. It is important to note, however, that some analysts have pointed out that this may primarily address the recurring costs associated with last year's pay agreements, rather than representing new investment. It is also worth highlighting that against the additional £3.4bn over three years, the NHS Confederation calculate a £6.4bn annual capital funding increase is required to overcome existing the capital backlog.

We will continue to scrutinise today's announcements and this week's Friday Blog for members will be brought to you by Lucy Stevenson, who will share further detail on what today's Budget means for HealthTech.