RCR responds to Autumn Budget and Spending Review

Wednesday 27 October 2021

The RCR has welcomed health funding pledges confirmed in today’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, while urging for more detail on the future staffing of NHS imaging and cancer services.

Announced earlier today by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Budget and Spending Review confirmed Government spending on the NHS and COVID-19 recovery up to 2024-2025, to be funded through the incoming Health and Social Care Levy, as well as dedicated investment to boost recovery and new ways of working.

Pledges include £2.3bn over the Spending Review period to create 100 new community diagnostic centres across England, “to permanently increase diagnostic capacity”, as well as £2.1bn to improve NHS IT and digital connectivity.

The Budget and Spending Review recommits to boosting the number of nurses and allied health professionals and makes a general pledge to funding the medical student intake, however, it contains no new detail on plans for specialty training.

Responding to today’s announcements, RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson said:

“We welcome the Government’s ongoing efforts to fund NHS recovery and improved patient access, underlined by today’s promise by the Chancellor that funding from the new Health and Social Care Levy will go directly to improving frontline capacity and supporting innovation, and that more than £4bn will go towards boosting diagnostics, infrastructure and IT. 

“The new scanners, community diagnostic centres and streamlined care pathways promised will be critical in helping to tackle the covid care backlog and record waiting lists, enabling NHS services to diagnose and treat patients faster, while safeguarding emergency care resources. 

“But new machines and delivery models will only take us so far. It is hugely ambitious to expect exhausted healthcare teams to hit and sustain recovery capacity targets purely by deploying new equipment and efficiencies. We all know the NHS needs more staff, and it is vital that more is shared about how the funding detailed today will work towards bridging the staffing gap.

“We have seen very welcome rises in training places in imaging services – which are so fundamental to patient diagnoses and treatment – and cancer care. But recent boosts do not ensure we can continue at the current inadequate level of service in the future. Without sustained workforce investment in our specialties, by 2030 the NHS is set to be short of 6,000 radiologists and 700 clinical oncologists.  

“We are pleased at the Government’s clear and repeated commitment to upgrading and streamlining the NHS, and await more information about how and where capital expenditure will be targeted. The RCR will continue to campaign for the additional staffing that is desperately needed in our specialties, and we look forward to working with NHS leaders and medical training colleagues on the issue as the realities of the Budget and Spending Review funding emerge over coming months.”