An open letter saying NHS funding boost is inadequate has been signed by 100 doctors and nurses

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By Sarah Newly

“With an offer that falls short of what is needed this Government has shown once again that it can’t be trusted to care for the NHS.”

Theresa May has announced that the NHS England will receive an additional £20 billion a year by 2023, in what ministers are calling a “birthday present” ahead of the health services’ 70th anniversary. But 100 senior doctors and nurses have signed an open letter in the Daily Mirror claiming that the funding increase doesn’t go far enough. “With an offer that falls short of what is needed, this Government has shown once again that it can’t be trusted to care for the NHS,” they wrote. Funding not enough for NHS improvements The new plan will see the NHS receive a funding increase of 3.4 per cent in real terms each year, between 2019 and 2024. This compares to a financial squeeze under the Tories during the austerity years, in which the NHS has seen a budget rise of just 1.8 per cent each year. But those who signed the letter, including 50 GPs, 10 consultants and five professors, alongside nurses and junior doctors, said the funding boost will not save the NHS. They claimed that the funding increase represents only a 3 per cent rise, as there will be no new funding for public health, nurse training or social care. “Less than 4% means the NHS will continue to deteriorate and our patients continue to suffer,” they said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies have also said that a 4 per cent funding boost was the minimum required to improve services. 100,000 staff vacancies The letter set out a list of problems which the funding would not resolve, including a a “shambolic situation” which has left 100,000 staff vacancies due to a lack of workforce planning. The doctors and nurses said that more money was needed to prevent NHS staff leaving work “in tears, exhausted because of overwork and understaffing.” “There must be investment in public health and prevention instead of cuts.” They also wrote that they wanted an end to “needless suffering and tragic deaths” in A&E, more investment in general practice, and improvements in cancer treatment times. Where does NHS funding come from? The letter comes as the government have been widely criticised for claims that £9 billion of funding will come from a so-called “Brexit dividend.” Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told the BBC: “Yes, we’ll stop paying money to the EU, but the economy’s already shrunk a bit as a result of the vote – the Government has accepted that. “Actually the public finances will be £15bn or so worse off, not better off, so there really just isn’t money there for a Brexit dividend.” But the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that the plans were a “fitting birthday present” for the health service. “As the Prime Minister announces a historic long-term funding boost and 10-year plan for the health service, we are backing the NHS to show the world what a cutting-edge 21st century healthcare system can look like too. “This long-term plan and historic funding boost is a fitting birthday present for our most loved institution. “It recognises the superhuman efforts made by staff over the last few years to maintain services in the face of rapidly growing demand.”

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