Theresa May’s claim of £10bn extra funding for the NHS is a lie, according to the Commons Health Select Committee. Following months of investigation, committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston has written to Chancellor Phillip Hammond urging him to make extra funds available for the health service. It is claimed that the true figure of government spending is far lower.
The power of repetition
The claim of a £10bn cash injection for the NHS was first made by May at the Conservative Conference on 5 October.
She stated in her address that the Conservatives had:
Put record investment into the NHS.
At every election since it was established, Labour have said the Tories would cut the NHS and every time we have spent more it.
She then first aired her claim that the Conservative Party was:
investing an extra £10bn in the NHS – more than its leaders asked for.
That’s not quite true, though, as NHS England CEO Simon Stevens originally said in 2014 that the health service needed £30bn, only half of which could be found through “efficiency savings” (i.e. cuts).
Also, as The Canary has pointed out, many NHS-themed talks were hosted by The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) during the very same Conservative conference. The IEA is a longstanding right-wing thinktank, beloved of Margaret Thatcher, which openly admits to wanting the NHS abolished. Even then, it appeared that May was doing one thing while saying another.
Despite this, the £10bn figure has been repeated by ministers frequently.
Dr Wollaston’s summary is made all the more damning as she is a Conservative MP herself. She wrote:
The continued use of the figure of £10bn for the additional health spending up to 2020-21 is not only incorrect but risks giving a false impression that the NHS is awash with cash.
Wollaston also acknowledged that, in reality, the NHS is in financial crisis and that this:
calls into question the ability of the NHS to maintain services.
Wollaston stated that the £10bn figure is reached by adding an extra year to the spending review period, changing the date from which the increase was calculated and ignoring other aspects of the health budget.
In other words, May and Hunt ‘cooked the books’ between them, which Hunt has personally admitted.
Wollaston’s knockout blow was to confirm that in reality:
per capita spending is projected to be flat in 2017-18, and to actually fall in 2018-19.
Unfit to govern
With the NHS such a crucial issue, and the dishonesty of both Theresa May and her ministers now confirmed, it must be asked how much longer she can continue to hold office. With the Brexit mess and the rebellion over Heathrow still ongoing, May, it seems, has lurched from one crisis to another, while saying nothing of any real content.
Her administration lives on borrowed time.
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