More drama than substance

Posted on: 21st June 2018

The dramatic sounding Prime-Ministerial announcement of more money for our NHS was just that – more drama than substance.

Barely papers over the cracks
Breathless media reporters gasped, but woefully miscalculated. The Government is offering 3.4% more per annum over the next 5 years. This barely papers over the cracks; is a lower increase than the NHS received over its 70 year history; and doesn’t even begin to properly make up for the underfunding and mismanagement of the service under the Conservatives .

What’s on offer is about £4 billion more next year – about half of what the Liberal Democrats pledged in last year’s manifesto when they risked making a potentially unpopular promise – to put 1p on income tax to pay for it. I had called for the equivalent of a 2p rise.

Meanwhile the media described the PM’s announcement as a “£20 billion increase”. No such thing. Though it’s possible the annual increase may reach that level (taking into account inflation) by the end of the 5 year funding period 2023/4.

Now I don’t want to be churlish. The extra is of course welcome. But given my position I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting the PM’s announcement a face-saving initiative, to deflect attention before the NHS’s birthday away from their catastrophic mismanagement of the NHS.

And here’s another contrast. I’ve been prepared to risk criticism for suggesting tax increases will be necessary if we sincerely want to save our NHS. Meanwhile local Conservative MPs offer excuses and have voted against proposals to give the NHS the money it needs.

Brexit dividend?
The PM makes this announcement before she has a clear idea where the money will come from. Which suggests this is more about reputation management than about substance.
Much of the Government’s supposed cash injection is supposed to come from the fabled ‘Brexit dividend’. But the Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility believe the idea of a “Brexit dividend” is a joke. Even if a ‘dividend’ were to eventually emerge, it certainly won’t anytime within the PM’s promised funding period to 2024.

20% more by 2020
So, in the meantime I have been convening a group of medical professionals and cross-Party political campaigners which makes the strong case that the NHS now needs “20% more funding by 2020” to overcome the mismanagement and cash starvation of recent years. Yes, of course the crusade to root out inefficiency and waste must be pursued with vigour, but that alone won’t save our NHS.

Make your voice heard
If you support this campaign. If you want to fight to re-open Edward Hain Hospital in St Ives or secure the future of Helston’s hospital and the many services provided by the NHS in Cornwall which will remain under threat we need to hear from you.

Some of us are campaigning and gathering petitions at the bottom of Causeway head in Penzance on Saturday 30th June (11am – 12.30pm) and then we’ll deliver birthday cards to local hospitals and NHS services to celebrate on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of our NHS on 5th July.

Copies of our petition, Charter and the open letter from supporting medical professionals are available. Contact me at