ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018

PM told to come clean on funding source for NHS boost

20 June 2018, 01:44 | Melissa Porter

Boris Johnson on the Brexit campaign trail in front of the Vote Leave battlebus

Boris Johnson on the Brexit campaign trail in front of the Vote Leave battlebus

Campaigners have said Prime Minister Theresa May's pledge to boost NHS coffers by £20 billion a year will be insufficient to meet patients' needs, following years of underfunding.

The increase in NHS England spending will be the equivalent of a 3.4 per cent increase per year in real terms, below the 3.7 per cent historical annual rate of growth.

The announcement, which comes as the NHS is due to turn 70 years old next year, will be funded in part via a "Brexit divident", Ms May claimed.

Commons Health Committee chairwoman Sarah Wollaston said she was sad to see Mrs May's government "slide to populist arguments" as people were being "treated like fools".

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, also said the so-called windfall from European Union withdrawal would not materialise when the United Kingdom stopped paying more than £9 billion a year to Brussels due to the "divorce bill" of some £39 billion, and other economic factors.

Mr Hunt dismissed findings from the Office for Budget Responsibility and Institute for Fiscal Studies that said there would be a net cost, not a dividend, from Brexit.

The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "huge, very difficult" discussions with the Treasury "went to the wire" until Chancellor Philip Hammond was certain that the additional spending was affordable.

Meanwhile, councils have questioned why the funding announcement did not also include more money for social care and public health, which covers everything from stop smoking services to obesity prevention.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, celebrated the funding increase, saying it represented a "significant improvement" and May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt "deserve credit" for securing a longer-term settlement.

"We will be able to explain exactly where every penny is coming from but we will do that in the Budget", said the Health Secretary.

"When we leave we won't be doing that. We will be spending it on our priorities and our number one priority is the NHS".

Theresa May's claim of a "Brexit dividend" for the NHS is a "reckless pledge" that ignores the economic damage leaving the European Union could wreak, a group of leading health professionals say today.

"We also remain concerned about the fate of social care". But it's right that we must recognise the impact social care has on the NHS, and the way in which these work together.

She also said there may be a reform of health service regulation, including the internal market for commissioning treatment, which have been criticised by NHS leaders.

May will pledge to increase the NHS budget by 20 billion pounds ($26.6 billion) a year, or 384 million pounds a week, after Brexit, according to front-page reports in the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Observer, which were published late on Saturday.

Mr Hunt and the prime minister have asked him to set a 10-year plan for how to spend the money and to effectively to draft new legislation.

"It must be a plan that tackles waste, reduces bureaucracy and eliminates unacceptable variation", she will say.

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