Boris Johnson’s government has promised to spend £13bn on hospital projects. But while the PM spoke about building “40 new hospitals”, the reality was quite different, as Jeremy Corbyn and his team quickly pointed out:
This morning Boris Johnson told newspapers he was going to build "40 new hospitals" but it didn't take long for this to unravel.
It turned out to be untrue.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) September 29, 2019
Boris Johnson just said building 40 new hospitals in fact it’s 6 hospital reconfigurations. And under the Tories:
🚨Cuts have left hospitals with a £6 billion backlog of repairs.
🚨 Less than 3% of previously announced capital investment has actually been delivered since 2017.
— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) September 29, 2019
Don’t fall for Johnson’s lies
The BBC reported that:
The plans include a £2.7bn investment for six hospitals over five years.
And as the Mirror said, that number “includes renovations of existing hospitals”. So not ’40 new hospitals’, then.
As the Mirror soon clarified:
They’ll only promise the full 40 if they win not only the next election, but the one after that.
Matt Hancock, health secretary, tells @SophyRidgeSky the funding for the so-called 40 new hospitals will be found “in the future” 🥶
(Reminder tax revenue is expected to be very heavily impacted by a no-deal brexit according to government forecasts) pic.twitter.com/oPI3ob4gVE
— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) September 29, 2019
The BBC, however, initially ran with the uncritical and misleading headline Government pledges £13bn for 40 new hospitals. It later said it had “deleted an earlier tweet to provide further clarification in relation to the headline”. But unfortunately for the public broadcaster, people had already taken screenshots of it echoing Tory propaganda:
Oh, you mean this deleted tweet?
Now I expect deletion of this tweet that linked to the deleted tweet with further clarification in relation to the tweet about the deleted tweet. 😜 pic.twitter.com/HRcWbrp5XN
— Share And Enjoy (@Go_SYH_In_A_Pig) September 29, 2019
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) September 29, 2019
Never forget the Tories’ record on the NHS
Amid Johnson’s attempts to make attractive NHS pledges, we should never forget the Conservative-led government’s terrible record on healthcare since 2010. As Channel 4‘s FactCheck wrote in 2018, the Conservatives have overseen “years of austerity”. So despite the need for higher spending due to “a growing and ageing population”, the Tories have severely squeezed the healthcare sector:
The New Statesman‘s George Eaton, meanwhile, quoted the chief executive of the NHS in 2018, saying “after nearly a decade of austerity… Britain was underfunding the health service by £20-30bn compared to comparable countries such as Germany, France and Sweden”.
Also, as the Guardian reported in February 2019:
Health unions have been warning for years that NHS personnel are cracking under heavy workloads, rising demand for care and widespread understaffing.
And amid “40,877 unfilled nursing posts and a shortage of 9,337 doctors”:
The number of personnel leaving the NHS because of a poor work-life balance has almost trebled in the past seven years, analysis by the Health Foundation thinktank shows.
A month later, the Independent revealed that “more than 200,000 nurses have quit the NHS since the Conservatives entered government”.
As Full Fact said in July, meanwhile, health experts have stressed that, amid “tight spending in recent years and increasing demand for services”, “access to some treatments is being rationed and… quality of care in some services is being diluted”.
As shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has insisted:
There is a reason why we focus on the shortages for 100,000 staff including 40,000 nurses. It undermines safe care very day and its patients who suffer the consequences. https://t.co/48I6FQyfaJ
— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) September 29, 2019
The NHS is not safe with the Conservative Party
Around 70% of the British public believe that their taxes should fund a public NHS. But as YouGov reported in 2018, “there has been a noticeable deterioration in the public’s perception of how the government is running the NHS” in recent years. And many blame the Tories’ underfunding and backdoor privatisation – not the NHS or its staff – for worsening conditions:
These promises were broken by the government, not the NHS
Please RT if you want the BBC to start reporting on healthcare more accurately
— NHS Million (@NHSMillion) July 14, 2019
This Tory Health Secretary promised us ‘no privatisation on my watch’ yet private health firms have received a record £9.2bn of the NHS budget.
You simply can’t trust the Tories with the NHS. Labour will end Tory privatisation & restore a public NHS. https://t.co/KDmINKa0MZ
— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) July 21, 2019
The answer isn't private hospitals. It's a properly funded publicly owned NHS. https://t.co/W7QPz90BR8
— We Own It (@We_OwnIt) July 31, 2019
In fact, even high-profile Conservatives don’t trust Boris Johnson on the NHS. In 2016, for example, former prime minister John Major said it was “rather odd” to believe Johnson “would care for the national health service” as he had previously “wanted to charge people for using it”. He then said of Johnson and his allies:
The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.
With the Conservatives’ record in power and Boris Johnson’s elitist instincts in mind, we can’t afford to just take his pledges at face value like the BBC did. We need to hold him to account now more than ever.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?