Boris Johnson rebuked over NHS cash plea

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionHammond: Boris Johnson is foreign secretary (not health secretary)

Theresa May has called for discussions about future NHS funding to remain private after Boris Johnson publicly called for more money after Brexit.

Before Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, it was widely reported that the foreign secretary would pitch for a £100m a week “Brexit dividend” for the NHS.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said he did not mention “specific figures”.

No 10 said Mrs May chaired a discussion on post-Brexit funding options but made clear conversations should be private.

The BBC’s political editor said the PM’s remarks on the subject were “pointed”.

However, she said there was also support in some quarters for Mr Johnson’s position while the principle that the NHS would get some of the money which will become available after the UK leaves in March 2019 – when its contributions to the EU Budget are likely to considerably decrease – was agreed.

Mr Johnson had been reported to be planning to use Tuesday’s cabinet meeting – in which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave an update on the “significant” winter pressures” facing the NHS – to kick start a wider debate about NHS funding and warn his party against “abandoning the territory” to Labour.

If you can’t see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here.

A source close to Mr Johnson said he was frustrated at what he perceived as Downing Street’s lack of action on the issue given the levels of public anxiety about how the NHS is faring.

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said neither Mr Johnson nor any other minister raised a specific figure during what No 10 said was a “wide ranging and constructive” hour-long discussion.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Hunt told the cabinet meeting the NHS was facing “significant” demand pressures

But a No 10 spokesman said Mrs May and “a large number of Cabinet ministers” made clear that Cabinet discussions should take place in private.

Downing Street said the PM reminded ministers that the government has repeatedly said contributions to the EU budget which end after Brexit would be able to be spent on domestic priorities including the NHS.

“There will also be other calls upon that money but we will discuss those priorities at that time,” a spokesman said, adding the extra money found at the Budget reflects the fact the NHS is “one of the top priorities”.

It said other factors which had to be taken into account including the results of efficiency reviews within the NHS and the integration of health and social care provision.

In a further rebuff to Mr Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he had given the NHS an extra £6bn in November’s Budget, telling reporters Mr Johnson was “the foreign secretary” not health secretary.

Arriving for a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Hammond said the right time to revisit the long-term issue of NHS spending was at the next departmental spending review early next year.

During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave – of which Mr Johnson was a leading supporter – claimed £350m went to the EU each week and money could instead go to the NHS.

As recently as the end of November, Mr Hammond said he would give the NHS in England an extra £2.8bn in cash right in next two years along with £3.5bn in long-term capital funding.

But growing numbers of Conservative MPs from different wings of the party are openly expressing their frustration with Number 10’s handling of the NHS winter pressures.

They are particularly concerned about Prime Minister Theresa May’s response to calls for a cross-party commission to tackle the long-term challenges of facing the health service.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard told the BBC News Channel the foreign secretary was right to speak out.

“I support Boris, he’s right. But I think whether it’s Boris or Theresa May or Jeremy Hunt, in the longer term there needs to be political leadership about how we fund the NHS going forward in the twenty-first century.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBBC gains exclusive access to A&E at University Hospital of North Tees

For Labour, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he welcomed calls for more funding but accused Mr Johnson of seeking to “weaponise” the NHS for his own “tedious political games”.

“If the government was really serious about putting money into the NHS, they would have done it in the Budget last autumn,” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show. “We did not hear a peep from him then.”

Meanwhile, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the UK will almost certainly have to increase the share of income devoted to health funding to deal with demographic challenges.

In an article for the Times newspaper, its director Paul Johnson said “that will mean higher taxes” and “governments will need to explain that honestly”.

Related Topics

More From this publisher : HERE ; This post was curated using : TrendingTraffic

    Recommended Products

  • SyndRanker Unlimited - Yearly SyndRanker Unlimited - Yearly With this upgrade, you will get: - Unlimited Syndications - 500 RSS Feeds Campaigns - Recurring Syndications - Post Spinning
  • wp OptinJam Pro 2.0 wp OptinJam is a WordPress plugin designed to unlock the full power of WebinarJam and EverWebinar on WordPress. Put registration forms and confirmation pages on your WordPress site, and register visitors for multiple webinars at the same time!
  • CloudCreate Cloud App Creates High-Converting Videos In 60 Seconds Flat
  • SociChief - Main Cloud-Based Software Tool Automates YOUR Marketing and Gets YOU Unlimited FREE Traffic And Makes You Easy Money!