The chancellor is due to announce an extra £2bn is to be made available to spend on health services across the UK, as part of his autumn statement.
However, the statement comes amid further protests from unions that argue more money should be channelled into providing a blanket 1% pay rise for NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts.
“It’s crucial that this additional investment is used to relieve the pressure on frontline services”
The autumn statement – called the pre-Budget report under the previous Labour government – will be delivered by Mr Osborne at 12:30 in the Commons. It is used by the government as a vehicle to flag future tax and spending plans as well as set out the state of the nation’s finances.
Some of the key announcements, including several on health, from today’s statement have already been trailed in the last few days.
These include the addition £2bn being put into health services across the UK, which Mr Osborne unveiled on Sunday.
He is also expected to pledge at least £15m towards a new fund for dementia research, which builds on an existing government commitment to spend £66m on dementia research by next year.
Meanwhile, an extra £150m will be announced to help children with eating disorders. The aim is to invest in preventative therapy to cut the need for hospital treatment.
Responding to the news of an additional £2bn of investment in the NHS, Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the funding was “certainly welcome”.
“Services are under strain, staff are demoralised, and in too many areas there’s the very real potential for the quality of patient care to go downhill,” he said.
“It’s crucial that this additional investment is used to relieve the pressure on frontline services,” he said. “The money must go to the right places – including community care and mental health services, as well as hospitals.”
However, Mr Carter added that the NHS still needed a plan for long-term, sustainable investment.
“An announcement of an extra £2bn six months ahead of an election may be good politics, but it won’t be enough to plug the budget gap of £30bn that’s expected to open up in the NHS over the course of the next parliament,” he warned.
“George Osborne has pledged extra chase to the NHS, he must now do the decent thing and use a tiny fraction of this money to give NHS staff the pay increase they deserve”
Yesterday, NHS staff from Unite, the GMB and other unions staged a protest outside the Treasury to demand fair NHS pay on the eve of the chancellor’s autumn statement.
The health workers called on the chancellor to give all NHS staff a 1% pay increase as recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body.
Speaking ahead of the protest, Unite head of heath Rachael Maskell said: “NHS workers are bearing the brunt of the government’s public sector cuts. They have suffered five years of real terms wage cuts.
“George Osborne has pledged extra chase to the NHS, he must now do the decent thing and use a tiny fraction of this money to give NHS staff the pay increase they deserve,” she said.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The NHS is on the brink of its worst winter in years. Staff morale is at all-time low and they have taken a bold move by going on strike twice this year.
“If the government is serious about the future of our NHS then they must find the money to pay workers as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body,” he said.
Mr Prentis added: “We are aware of the financial reality we live in but we negotiated deals for NHS workers in Scotland and in Wales, so why is the government so determined to penalise workers in England?
“This is the Chancellor’s last chance to bring some relief for workers and admit he got it wrong,” he said.