Philip Hammond accuses NHS chief of 'not delivering' on reform plan

Posted On: 
20th November 2017

Philip Hammond has attacked the chief executive of NHS England for "not delivering" a five-year plan to improve the health service. 

The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens

The Chancellor said ministers had provided the £10bn in extra funding requested by Simon Stevens in 2014, but were not yet seeing results. 

And he appeared to dismiss Mr Stevens' call for an extra £4bn in extra central government funding for 2018-19 to avoid a big increase in waiting lists. 

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The NHS chief also claimed in a speech earlier this month that the UK was underspending on health by £20-30bn a year compared to countries such as France and Germany.

But Mr Hammond gave that argument short shrift, telling the Andrew Marr Show: "I just remind you that Simon Stevens drew up the NHS five-year view back in 2014, he was the one who set the envelope of resource that he asked the Government for - £10bn extra by 2020-  we agreed to fund that and that plan is not at the moment being delivered.

"Now, we understand the pressures the NHS is under from higher demand than predicted and, of course, we want to work with the NHS to address these problems, get it back on track to deliver its target."

Asked whether the NHS did need an extra cash injection, Mr Hammond suggested that all government departments were vying for more money ahead of Wednesday's Budget.

"I'll let you in on a Budget secret. In the run-up to Budget people running all kinds of services, government departments come to see us and they always have very large numbers that are absolutely essential otherwise Armageddon will arrive.

"I don't contest for one moment that the NHS is under pressure, we've been doing some very careful work with the Department of Health, with the NHS to look at where those pressures are, to look at the capital needs of the NHS, to look at where the particular pressure points around targets are and we will seek to address those in a sensible, measured and balanced way."

Reports over the weekend suggested the Treasury would find some extra money to give nurses a pay rise, though it will have to be above 3% just to stay in line with the current rate of inflation.