Theresa May Promises £20 Billion Annual Boost To NHS
The National Health Service is to receive an extra £20 billion ($26.5bn) a year by 2023 as a 70th 'birthday present', Theresa May has claimed.
The prime minister said this would be funded in part by a 'Brexit dividend', but also hinted that there could be tax rises too.
The claim would mean that the £114bn ($151bn) budget will rise by an average of 3.4 percent annually. However, that's still less than the 3.7 percent average rise the NHS has had since 1948.
Speaking in a BBC interview, Mrs May did not elaborate on how the £20bn a year would be funded but told Andrew Marr: "As a country we will be contributing more, a bit more, but also we will have that sum of money that is available from the European Union.
"What we're doing is saying very clearly as a government that the NHS is our priority. And it's right, because the NHS matters to people.
"We have looked carefully at what we have put into the NHS to ensure that we deliver world-class healthcare."
However, the prime minister is now under pressure to justify how a so-called 'Brexit dividend' could help to pay the costs.
Mrs May's claims were rubbished by Sarah Wollaston, an influential Conservative backbencher who chairs the Commons health and social care committee.
"The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools," she tweeted.
"Sad to see government slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issue. This will make it harder to have a rational debate about the 'who & how' of funding and sharing this fairly."
Shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry also expressed scepticism about the plan.
She told Marr: "I'd certainly welcome it if we could believe it [but] how are they going to pay for it?
"They say that they're going to increase taxes, but we've yet to hear who is going to get their taxes increased and how. They say they're going to increase borrowing but they haven't said by how much, and they haven't told us what the effect will be.
"They've told us they're going to pay for it from a Brexit dividend. We don't really know what that means because we don't know what the deal is going to be and what the overall effect on the economy is going to be, and actually whether Brexit is going to end up costing us a great deal of money."
Featured Image Credit: BBC