The former health secretary Andrew Lansley has joined MPs from across the political spectrum in criticising the autumn statement for its lack of extra funding for the NHS and social care.
Lansley, who is now a peer, said he was disappointed there was not extra cash for the health service, which is under increasing pressure because adult social care budgets have been cut.
“I think the time is now to put some measure in place to try and help health and social care through the next two years,” he told the BBC’s World at One.
Asked whether he had been surprised at the lack of a funding announcement, he said: “Not being surprised doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.”
He said the NHS and social care were facing an “incredibly difficult” period in the coming years.
“In the last parliament a challenging target was set and it was achieved,” he said. “The trouble is in this parliament, what has been asked of the National Health Service is not just more of the same but even more, and I’m afraid what was evident in the last financial year was when you take the level of support for the NHS below a 2% increase – to hospitals, that is – and the demand is rising at 4% there comes a point where they start to go in to significant deficit.
“The front-end loading of the money for the NHS in this parliament in to this financial year will probably mean those deficits come down this year, but without action next year and the year after those deficits will rise again and the accumulated deficit will make it very difficult for hospitals in particular to cope.”
He said the Better Care Fund, which brought together money from the NHS and social care, amounted to “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
“That is not going to be remedied simply by taking money out of the NHS budget and passing it to local authorities,” he said.
Labour politicians led criticism of the chancellor, Philip Hammond, after his autumn statement for his failure to mention the NHS or social care in his fiscal document or to allocate any more money, instead prioritising infrastructure and projects such as more grammar schools.
Some Conservatives also voiced concern, including Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the health committee, who has said NHS and social care are at a tipping point. She and four other members of the health committee have also criticised the government’s claim to be putting an extra £10bn into the NHS by 2020.
“The continued use of the figure of £10bn for the additional health spending up to 2020-21 is not only incorrect, but risks giving a false impression that the NHS is awash with cash,” Wollaston and her four fellow committee members told the chancellor in a letter earlier this month.