On Wednesday 8 March, Philip Hammond made an apparently off-the-cuff remark during his Budget 2017 speech. But it was possibly one of the most laughable comments of the day.
Surely, some mistake?
As the BBC’s Nick Robinson tweeted:
"We are the party of the NHS" claims Chancellor as Health Secretary nods vigorously. Quite a claim #Budget2017
— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) March 8, 2017
But social media users couldn’t believe their ears and eyes:
And the Tories are breaking promises yet again! Interesting few years ahead! "The party for the NHS" I think not! Very interesting budget!
— Bradley Benson (@BraddBenson) March 8, 2017
Some made comparisons with historical characters:
— hopbin (@hopbin) March 8, 2017
Others questioned the reality of Hammond’s statement:
— Ben Maloney (@Ben_Maloney) March 8, 2017
Nope. He meant it
Many people believe the reality of the NHS under a Conservative government is very different from the one Hammond sees. As The Canary previously reported on Saturday 4 March, over 250,000 people took part in a march for the NHS.
The Canary filmed a documentary, speaking to various people about the state of the NHS today:
The event called for a:
- Fully funded, publicly owned, NHS & social care service.
- Stop to government cuts, closures, and privatisation of the NHS.
- Lifting of the pay restraint for health service staff.
Hammond: obliterating the NHS?
Campaigners say [pdf] the Tories have forced the NHS to “its knees” since they came to power in coalition in 2010:
Private companies are gaining an ever greater foothold within the NHS. Years of pay restraint have seen the value of NHS staff salaries reduce by 14% since 2010. The Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans [STPs] are a smokescreen for a massive programme of hospital and community service closures, and are its latest instrument for privatisation.
The facts and figures seem to back up the groups’ claims:
- The amount paid to ‘independent’ companies has more than doubled since 2010 to over £8bn a year.
- 8% of government health funding now goes to private companies.
- Private companies working in the NHS have seen their profits soar by up to 100%.
- The 1% pay cap on health service staff salaries has seen their money drop by 14% in real terms.
Campaigners say STPs are secret privatisation plans. And that the government splitting the NHS into 44 areas across the country is paving the way for private companies to buy it up.
It’s our NHS
While Theresa May found much of the budget amusing, Hammond’s claim will stick in the throats of hundreds of thousands of campaigners and millions of NHS patients. And when even Conservative MPs like Sarah Wollaston attack the government for its handling of the health service, you know that the Tories really are not the “party of the NHS”.
– Read more from The Canary on Budget 2017.
Featured image via screengrab