People are pouring scorn on Theresa May’s latest NHS proposal

Andrew Marr and Theresa May in convrsation

On 17 June, Theresa May revealed that the Conservative Party is giving the NHS a 70th birthday present. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, she stated the government will be giving the NHS an extra £20bn a year by 2023.

But don’t start celebrating just yet. As is often the case with this government, the announcement is not all that it seems.

Dividend? What dividend?

The new ‘boost’ for the NHS comes after years of underfunding. While the government has not spelled out exactly where the money will be coming from, it’s thought it will be through higher taxes and a mysterious Brexit dividend.

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When Marr asked whether a Brexit dividend actually exists, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee was scathing in her response:

Talk about absolute fraud, Brexit dividend? Certainly not. According to the two most reliable sources, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, head of that, says – ‘there is no Brexit dividend’ and he quotes the Office of Budget Responsibility … who says on the contrary there will be £15 billion less.

And people on social media were equally pessimistic:

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, had the final word:

A magic money tree?

The confusion around where the money is coming from also led to scepticism from shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry. Marr put it to her that she must be delighted about the new funding boost. To which she stated:

Yes, I mean I would certainly welcome it if we could believe it.

She went on to question the government’s apparent lack of costing for such a significant proposal:

People on Twitter were quick to highlight the government’s hypocrisy:

And others were worried about who will eventually be made to foot the bill:

Still not enough

Even if these incredibly sketchy funding proposals are more than just hot air, the money the government has promised is still not enough:

As Marr put it to May, to bring about meaningful change on issues such as waiting times and staff shortages, the NHS needs a 5% boost in funding. The Tories have promised just 3.4%. This is less than the historic annual increase:

Too little too late

On the NHS’s 70th birthday, this Tory proposal is reminiscent of an estranged parent tying to cover years of neglect with a lavish gift.

But you don’t have to scratch far below the surface to reveal that the gesture is all bluster. The complete lack of costing, and reliance on a Brexit dividend that experts say doesn’t exist, is an insult to the NHS.

No wonder people aren’t buying it.

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