Jeremy Hunt warns of risk to NHS funding 'if Brexit goes wrong'
Jeremy Hunt has warned that the Tories could struggle to meet their NHS spending commitments "if Brexit goes wrong".
The Health Secretary warned that failing to secure a good deal in the upcoming negotiations with Brussels could mean he will be unable to go ahead with recruiting extra doctors.
The Government has increased the number of doctor training positions by 1,500 per year starting in 2018.
But Mr Hunt warned that would only be achievable with a good Brexit deal, telling the i newspaper: “Every one cares passionately about the NHS. They also know there’s not a magic money tree and in the end the Brexit negotiations will determine whether our economy stays strong and we can carry on putting more money into the NHS, which is what people want.
“We’ve increased doctor training places...so the only thing that could upset that is if Brexit goes wrong and we don’t have the resources to put into it, but that’s what we want to do.”
His warning is a far cry from the Leave campaign's referendum claim that withdrawing from the EU would mean a potential extra £350m a week to invest in services such as the NHS.
Elsewhere, a thinktank warned that the health service could be faced with treating tens of thousands of British ex-pats currently living on the continent.
The Nuffield Trust said that without a settlement on health costs for Britons living abroad, many could return to the UK to seek treatment.
That could mean an increase in costs from the current £500m the NHS gives to other EU countries whose health systems care for British citizens.
Under the current S1 reciprocal scheme, British pensioners can get treatment anywhere in the EU on the same terms as the local population.
A spokesman for the Trust said it was "possible" the NHS would get more money from cancelling British contributions to the EU budget.
"Whether or not these benefits will outweigh the significant staffing and financial costs Brexit may impose on already stretched services remains to be seen," he argued.
"That depends largely on the NHS being recognised as a significant priority as we enter some of the most important negotiations in Britain's history."