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UK Policy Update October 2021

Welcome to this month’s policy update from HLA:THINK

Through these regular updates we will share with you some of the key developments in different areas of health and care policy, all through publicly available resources.

If you are interested in the work of HLA:Think and would like to get involved, feel free to contact us on

NHS Treatment Backlog

In last month’s bulletin, we outlined NHS waiting times. A manifesto from the APPG for Radiotherapy has since called for significant investment in cancer services to ease the treatment backlog. This came shortly before a Macmillan Cancer Support report on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care. Analysis by the Health Foundation found that £17bn is needed to clear the NHS backlog.

We also point towards the BMA’s monthly analysis of NHS wait times and a recent analysis on deprivation and waiting times by The King’s Fund.

A £5.4bn NHS funding rise for the remainder of 2021/22 was announced by the Department of Health and Social Care this month. Responses to this from the Health Foundation, British Heart Foundation and the BMA.

Health Inequality

The Health and Wellbeing Alliance was expanded this month by addition of several large charities in an effort to tackle health inequalities. The Government also announced a new body to tackle health disparities, the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities which will launch next month. Responses to the new office are linked here from The King’s Fund, NHS Providers, Royal College of Physicians and Race Equality Foundation.

Organisations including the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists and The Health Foundation have called for the government to scrap their scheduled £20 reduction from Universal Credit payments. We also include positions from the Mayor of London and Labour Party.

Government consultations on increasing the age of eligibility for free prescriptions from 60 to 66 closed this month. An open letter by organisations including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Age UK and Royal College of GPs condemned the move. We also link to analysis by The King’s Fund.

In this bulletin we also include the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman’s annual complaints review, published recently.

COVID-19 Recovery

A National Insurance rise was announced this month to help fund the NHS and social care. We point to responses from PwC, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Public and Commercial Services Union, London School of Economics and the Labour Party. We also link to a recently published paper by NHS Providers outlining their case for NHS capital funding. For context, an older piece on this topic, produced by the King’s Fund, can be found here.

Leading health journals warned this month that climate change poses a greater threat than COVID-19. We signpost to the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change and recent work by the World Economic Forum.

Produced by Jamie Carruthers and Arrash Yassaee



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