COVID backlogs and reforms to adult social care underway with the Health and Social Levy implemented to raise billions.
The Health and Social Care Levy has commenced from Wednesday 6th April in order to raise the billions needed for the COVID backlog, as well fund reforms to routine services.
In total, £39billion will be implemented over the next 3 years to put health and social care services back on an even, sustainable footing by funding it with the long-term resources it needs.
The NHS has not seen a catch up programme like this before, and in the wake of out of control care costs rising exponentially, the levy will see to the end of it.
The COVID-19 pandemic strained the NHS to its limits, with both capacity and resource used up to treat the unprecedented numbers of patients. As it stands, there are over 6 million people in England waiting for elective care – up from 4.4 million before the pandemic – and this number is expected to rise even higher as up to 10 million people did not come forward for treatment during the pandemic.
Not only is the levy due to end spiralling care costs, but the plan is also for it to reduce waiting times and deliver millions more scans, tests and operations, and innovating routine services and delivery so the NHS is future proofed against more unprecedented times.
As a result, there’ll be an increase to £160 billion for the NHS resource budget in 2024 to 2025, including £5.9 billion of capital investment to support diagnostics, technology, and elective recovery.
The social care system is due to benefit greatly from the levy, with a £5.4 billion backing, not only will it end the rising social care costs, it’ll limit the cost of care for everyone in the adult social care system for the first time, and significantly increase state support.
“We must be there for our NHS in the same way that it is there for us. COVID led to the longest waiting lists we’ve ever seen, so we will deliver millions more scans, checks and operations in the biggest catch-up programme in the NHS’s history.
We know this will not be a quick fix, and we know that we cannot fix waiting lists without fixing social care. Our reforms will end the cruel lottery of spiralling and unpredictable care costs once and for all and bring the NHS and social care closer together. The levy is the necessary, fair and responsible next step, providing our health and care system with the long-term funding it needs as we recover from the pandemic.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
“The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS and is causing the COVID backlogs. This investment will go into tackling those backlogs and will help make sure everyone can get the care and treatment they need.
We cannot have business as usual, which is why we are rolling out surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres up and down the country to deliver millions more scans, checks and operations.
This vital funding will ensure the NHS is equipped to not only reduce waiting times but also tackle the big challenges we face – from cancer to heart disease and dementia. We will also reform the adult social care system, invest in the workforce and protect people from catastrophic care costs.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid
“This government will not shy away from the difficult decisions we need to take to fix our social care system and slash NHS waiting times. The Health and Social Care Levy will fund a third more elective care, over 17 million extra diagnostic tests and a cap on the cost of care so people no longer live in fear of losing everything to pay for care.
The British people deserve the best health care in the world and delivering that is our top priority.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
What will the funding deliver?
- around 30% more elective activity in 3 years’ time than before the pandemic
- 17 million more diagnostic tests over the next 3 years
- the expansion of operating theatres and diagnostic centres for cancer and other conditions
- better control for patients over their care, with more information and access to specialist teams – for example, through the My Planned Care platform, now available to 5.5 million patients to find the average waiting time at their local hospital. In future the service will include advice on stopping smoking, diet and exercise, to help patients get ready for surgery and make sure they recover as quickly as possible. GPs and primary care teams will also be able to access the information, helping them to have more informed conversations with patients
- a fair cost of care, £1.36 billion will support local authorities in England to move towards paying a fair cost of care to adult social care providers, ensuring market sustainability and preparing markets for reform
- charging reform – an £86,000 cap on care costs will be put in place in October 2023 so people can have certainty over how much they will need to pay, a measure backed by a further £2.2 billion
Patients will have more information on wait times at the point of referral, should they ask for it. By the end of this year, patients who have been waiting for 18 months or more will have been contacted to discuss whether they would like to change their provider and reduce their wait time.
Patients will also be supported with travel costs, if required and feasible.
The, at the moment out of control, care costs will reformed to gain control over them again. Currently, anyone with assets over £23,250 pays their care costs in full. From October 2023, anyone with assets under £20,000 will have their care costs fully covered by the state.
Under the new system, the levy will put a cap on the cost of care at £86,000, which raises the point at which people meet the full cost of their care from £23,350 to £100,000 – almost 4 times higher than what we have without the levy.
The adult social care sector in England will receive at least £500 million to improve recruitment, retention, progression and staff wellbeing. To reduce the high turn over rate and improve working conditions overall, the funding will cover investment into continuous professional development budgets, social worker training, and wellbeing and mental health support.
The plan to increase the number of scans and tests being delivered is well underway, with the goal of 160 community diagnostic centres due to be up and running by 2025 – so far seventy-three centres are already providing more efficient and local care for patients, and there’s another 4 due to open in May.
New surgical hubs are to open alongside this delivery, adding to a network of hubs reducing wait times for procedures like cataract surgery or hip replacements.
Initially, national insurance contributions will be the base of the levy, although from 2023 this will be legislatively separate.
It’s means based, so those who earn more will pay more, with the highest 15% of earners paying over half the revenues.
Low earners will be shielded from the levy, as the level of which people pay National Insurance on their income will rise to £12, 570, saving on average around £330. This has no affect on the funding for health and social care.
What it means is, the COVID backlogs will not be cleared by those who need the services the most, it will be funded by those who can bear it and will further protect those who need it, while still providing the NHS with the vital funding it requires.