The independent London newspaper

There is a lack pf clarity on May’s pledge for NHS funding

05 July, 2018

• THE 70th anniversary of the National Health Service has prompted countrywide celebrations, and understandably so. This much-loved institution is there for everyone, at times of great sadness and great joy.

I can only echo the tributes that have already been made. I am proud to count myself among the many who are demanding that this landmark sets the NHS on the sustainable path that it so desperately deserves.

Hampstead and Kilburn is home to fantastic medical professionals, and I found it unsurprising that the Prime Minister chose the Royal Free Hospital for her latest announcement. It is a hospital that speaks to the public’s expectation of health care – free at the point of use for all those who need it.

However, by choosing my constituency as the launch-pad for her belated concession on spending, I have been keen to establish how Theresa May will pay for her pledge.

The NHS cannot afford further years of underfunding and neglect. Under this government patients are facing record waits for treatment, A&Es have had their worst performance on record this year and social care has long been in a precarious state.

The Prime Minister claimed that her recent pledge would be funded by a “Brexit dividend” – a fictional source of income – and unspecified tax hikes. On both counts the total lack of clarity is unacceptable.

Plans for a bespoke deal with the European Union are now seemingly off the table, and so the notion of an economic “dividend” from Brexit appears to be grounded in total fantasy.

A truer picture appears to be one of a poorer Britain, with the Governor of the Bank of England saying that Brexit has already cost each household £900.

Further, given this government’s record of slashing taxes for corporate giants, uncosted spending pledges are of huge concern to those who simply can’t afford to pay more.

Labour has been clear that those with the broadest shoulders should help set the NHS on the road to recovery, and it is a shame that the government remains stubborn in the face of this clear solution.

As the health service enters its eighth decade there is a real opportunity to tackle the country’s public health challenges. However, this will not be possible unless the government is transparent over how it will pay for NHS spending.

Labour, Hampstead & Kilburn


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