Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading’ the public over claim NHS cash boost is ‘new money’

Posted On: 
5th August 2019

Boris Johnson has been criticised for insisting that the latest cash boost for the NHS is “new money” amid claims that hospitals had already earned some of it by making cuts.

Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock during a visit to Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire
PA Images

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said it was clear the Prime Minister had “misled the public” over the £1.8bn announced for frontline health services.

Mr Johnson said the new funding for the NHS would result in "more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment", with 20 hospitals set to share £850m of extra cash to improve facilities and equipment.

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But questions were raised over where the money had come from after thinktank the Nuffield Trust said £1bn of it was already held by hospitals.

Senior policy analyst Sally Gainsbury tweeted: “There’s a catch: The £1bn is cash hospitals and other NHS trusts already have but have been forbidden to spend.

"They earned it last year in incentive payments for cutting their costs."

She added: “The 'PSF' [Provider Sustainability Fund] incentive deal was this: cut your costs and report a surplus in your accounts, and the government will give you a big fat cash reward in return that you can spend on new kit and building repairs.”

The claims prompted Mr Ashworth to accuse the PM of “trying to take the British people for fools”.

The Labour frontbencher later added: “You cannot trust a word he says and his claims are unravelling.

“It is now clear this is not new money, but funds already earmarked for hospitals which ministers previously blocked. 

“With 4.4 million patients waiting for operations and over 20,000 cancer patients waiting longer for treatment it is a disgrace that Johnson is trying to treat people like fools.

“After years of smash and grab cuts of £4 billion to NHS budgets it is now clearer than ever that, as Johnson's top adviser says, the Tories don't care about our NHS.”

But Mr Johnson told Sky News on a visit to Boston that the commitment was "new money" when compared to the five-year settlement pledged by Theresa May last year.

“I want to stress, this is new money,” he said. “I said ten days ago on the steps of Downing Street that we would be upgrading 20 hospitals around the country and this is it."

Pressed on a claim by the Health Foundation think tank that the boost amounted to a “drop in the ocean”, the Prime Minister said: “Don’t forget this is £1.8bn of new money.

“It wasn’t there ten days ago, it’s on top of the £34bn that we’re putting into the NHS and I have said that my job is to make sure that we use the funds that go into the NHS to reduce the time you wait to see your GP, the time you wait in A&E and that’s why we’re doing it today.”

Meanwhile a Number 10 spokesperson said: "Our position is that this is new money".