UK

David Lidington, Tory MP, Shot Down Over NHS Funding On BBC Question Time

Here's the reality of those government funding figures.

13/01/2017 09:22 GMT | Updated 17/01/2017 15:25 GMT

A Tory MP was roundly trounced on BBC Question Time last night after an audience member, Andrew Langford, blamed austerity for the current NHS crisis.

David Lidington, MP for Aylesbury, tried to defend the Government’s funding of the health service but was swiftly taken down by Labour’s Gisela Stuart.

But first, a word from a doctor...

The row comes after Theresa May’s comments on Sky News last Sunday.

She said: “We asked the NHS to set out what it needed over the next five years... we gave them more than was required.”

Speaking to NHS leaders last June, NHS England chief, Simon Stevens actually said: “In the Forward View, we actually said that the National Health Service would need between £8bn and £21bn by 2020 in order to sustain and improve.”

So the Government’s figure of £8bn is at the very bottom of what was asked for and fact check by the BBC suggests this will only just about plug the current gaps in NHS funding. 

In a defiant evidence session to MPs on Wednesday, Stevens flatly contradicted the Prime Minister’s recent remarks about the funding of hospitals and GPs.

Just hours after reports that Downing Street aides had briefed against him, the NHS Chief Executive made clear that he would not be silenced over cash pressures for health or social care for the elderly.

And in a series of barbs, Stevens:

- said the Government shouldn’t “pretend” there was no funding black hole

- rammed home that health spending was set to drop per person within two years

- declared he had been “running a little campaign” against social care cuts

- pointed out that hospitals were not being “feckless”

- taunted ministers with newspaper reports that the NHS lagged behind other EU states

- jibed that health was radically different from criminal justice, May’s former remit as Home Secretary.He added: “It’s right that by 2020 NHS England will be getting an extra £10bn over the course of six years. I don’t think that’s the same as saying we are getting more than we asked for over five years because it was a five-year forward view, not a six-year forward view.

“Like every part of the public service, we got less than we asked for in that process. I think it would be stretching it to say the NHS has got more than it has asked for.”

“In the here and now, there are very real pressures...This not because hospitals are being feckless.” 

Further an analysis last year by the King’s Fund concluded:

This means that between 2009/10 and 2020/21, spending on the NHS in England will rise by nearly £35 billion in cash terms – an increase of 35 per cent. But much of this increase will be swallowed up by rising prices. In fact, around £24 billion will be absorbed by inflation, leaving a real increase of just £11 billion (a 10 per cent rise over eleven years; equivalent to an average annual increase of just 0.9 per cent).