Jeremy Hunt has admitted to fudging his pledge to give the NHS £10bn in extra funding over five years, as NHS England’s chief says the health service has not got the money it needs.
In November Hunt promised the NHS would receive an extra £10 billion a year above inflation in the five years to 2020.
But on Tuesday he told a select committee the time period had been stretched to include the previous year. This would act to inflate the spending figure by £1.5bn, according to a recent report.
When challenged by the Heath Select Committee, he admitted “This amount of cash is being handed to the NHS... over the six years.” He confirmed the period “includes the spending review period and an extra year”.
During the meeting the Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens told the committee “we didn’t get the cash the NHS said it needed” for 2017 - 2019. He said these years would be “challenging” and “a hill to climb”.
A recent Health Select Committee report put the overall extra NHS spending at £4.5bn a year by 2020, rather than the £10bn promised.
Defending the funding decision, Hunt told the committee:
“”Whether you call if £4.5bn or call it £10bn it is what the NHS said it needed” .
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the admissions showed the Tories had failed to “give the NHS the money it needs to protect patient care”.
“Despite all of the Government’s spin, the Chief Executive of the NHS made clear that the NHS did not get the funding it asked for over the next four years and has a ‘hill to climb’ to maintain current services”, he said.
“The dramatic decline in NHS finances over the past few years has left A&E departments at breaking point, hospital wards dangerously overcrowded and millions of patients having to wait months for essential operations.
“Theresa May needs to stop ignoring the warnings from NHS bosses and start taking action to address the cash crisis facing the health service.”
Shadow Heath Minister Justin Madders called the revelations “astonishing”: