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Stop pretending NHS is 'awash with cash', MPs tell health secretary

The Government should stop giving the ‘misleading’ impression that NHS is being given a £10bn cash boost, MPs have suggested.

In a session of the House of Commons Health Committee yesterday, its chair Dr Sarah Wollaston asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt whether he felt people were wrongly given the ‘misleading impression that the NHS is awash with cash’.

She said the committee’s own calculations, based on traditional accounting standards and the Spending Review period, meant the NHS investment was more like £4.5bn than the £10bn the Government is claiming to be adding to the annual NHS budget by 2020/21.

Mr Hunt responded that it was ‘absolutely right to point out that the increase is an increase to NHS frontline funding and not an increase to the Department of Health budget’, but added that the Government had ‘never pretended’ otherwise.

He added: ‘But it is what the NHS said they needed to kickstart the [NHS Five Year] Forward View and I think that is why it is significant.’

But in the same evidence session, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told MPs that he was not being given the money he had requested with the Five Year Forward View plan published two years ago.

He said: ‘For year one and year five, yes I think you can say we were kind of in the zone, but for the next three years we didn't get the funding that the NHS had requested... So as a result we have got a bigger hill to climb.'

Dr Wollaston pointed out that this was already leading to NHS rationing of services such as fertility and orthopaedic treatments ‘on a widespread scale’, but Mr Hunt said he did not agree with these decisions, which are being made at a local level.

Mr Hunt said he ‘completely understands’ that people working in hospitals recognise that they have never been busier, people working in GP surgeries and the social care sector the same’ because a £22bn saving was ‘never easy’.

But he added: ‘What I don't accept is that in order to make those efficiency savings, you have to make changes that will impact negatively on patient care.’

He said that where the Government feels local commissioners are making ‘the wrong choices’ then ‘we step in'.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: 'We now know the truth: the Tories have failed to give the NHS the money it needs to protect patient care…

'Theresa May needs to stop ignoring the warnings from NHS bosses and start taking action to address the cash crisis facing the health service.'

 

Readers' comments (10)

  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha
    Agent Hunt, you are my HERO
    Love u
    XXX

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  • Mr Mephisto

    Cash crisis for the NHS as a whole. Funding crisis + manpower crisis in the land of General Practice = eutectic mix = Armageddon.

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  • Are ministers planning to privatize the NHS and get an advisor job or as a consultant in the private company?

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  • In spite of Jeremy Hunt being more or less forced to acknowledge that the £10bn included the year *before* the Spending Review - and that the calculations were based on a highly unusual method of calculation, Teresa May used the same misleading figure in PMQ.
    Is this a repeat of the "weekend effect" dysinformation policy?

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  • "...Mr Hunt said he did not agree with these decisions, which are being made at a local level."

    Devolving the responsibility to make difficult decisions to the staff you would like to be seen to support does not absolve you Mr Hunt.

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  • ‘What I don't accept is that in order to make those efficiency savings, you have to make changes that will impact negatively on patient care.’ So what should they do?

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  • the level of lies to the electorate and or delusion by the SOS and Mayhem knows no bounds and is a disgrace
    yesterday on PMQ when challenged about grotesque NHS underfunding mayhem came out with the usual robotic trashy broken record player non answer --she is proving to be hopeless like runt.
    These idiots are doing severe damage.
    When will these fools listen to reality?..lies will not solve real problems.

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  • I think May has read Hunt's tome on how to bring down the NHS and is following it's recommendations chapter and verse!
    Now she has to fund the black hole left by the hard brexit she wants to bring about. As such she is keen to eliminate the need to pay for free healthcare for all, namely the NHS. This may be her legacy of what she is always remembered for!

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  • The NHS is clearly underfunded because we have not enough doctors being trained and waiting times are increasing. The last Labour Government increased the NHS budget to near the EU average and got waiting times down from 2 years to 2-4 weeks but the Tories are not interested in the NHS except in re-organising the NHS rather expensively to no benefit to anyone expect to their business partners. Lots of people think we pour money into the NHS when it is budgetarily controlled to a lower budget for the Tories and to a higher budget for Labour. Because the Tories are not interested in the NHS except as a cash cow, waiting times are creeping back up again, and don't be surprised if you have to wait two years for that urgent operation the doctors told you you needed. Be warned Hunt and a colleague wrote a book advocating the UK adopts the USA model of healthcare which costs three times as much as the NHS and treats only one third of its patients. Since we taxpayers pay for the NHS, we want it to treat everyone when they need it. It's your choice.

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  • Interesting article from The King's Fund here on the finance issue:
    http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2016/01/how-does-nhs-spending-compare-health-spending-internationally

    The question is how the extra £43bn is funded, taxes or less spending elsewhere and if it is taxes who pays.

    The other alternative is of course to improve the private medical market which was obliterated by the Labour decision to make health insurance a taxable benefit. Afterall the comparative figures are based on public and private spending. It is possible to improve the private market without privatising the NHS.

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