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Honour Brexit health pledge to help NHS pressures, Stevens tells politicians

Honour Brexit health pledge to help NHS pressures, Stevens tells politicians

The head of the NHS in England has called for the claims of extra cash for the NHS made by Brexiteers during the Referendum campaign to be honoured.
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The head of the NHS in England has called for the claims of extra cash for the NHS made by Brexiteers during the Referendum campaign to be honoured.

Simon Stevens used his address to the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham to remind politicians of their promise that leaving the EU would free up cash for healthcare.

His comments were welcomed by other health leaders, who have been queuing up to ask the Chancellor for more money in this month’s Autumn Budget.

Mr Stevens also predicted that if more cash is not forthcoming, waiting lists will reach five million patients by 2021.

He told health leaders attending the conference: ‘On current budget, the NHS will not be able to do everything that is being asked of it.

'The NHS waiting list will grow to five million by 2021. That is one million more people, one in ten, the highest number ever.’

'Unprecedented constraint'

He added: 'The budget for the NHS next year is well short of what is currently needed to look after our patients and their families at their time of greatest need.

'After seven years of understandable but unprecedented constraint, on the current budget outlook the NHS can no longer do everything that is being asked of it.'

He reminded delegates of the controversial  claim  from the  2015 Referendum campaign that the NHS will get a huge slice of money if the UK left the EU.

He said: ‘The NHS wasn’t on the ballot paper but it was on the ballot bus. ‘Vote Leave for a better funded health service – £350m a week.’

Mr Stevens suggested the public want to see the cash used for essential services. 'Rather than criticising these commitments to the NHS, promises entered into by Cabinet ministers and MPs the public will doubtless want to see them honoured.'

He added: 'Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue you voted Brexit partly for a better funded health service but precisely because of Brexit you can’t have one.

'A modern NHS is now  precisely part of the practical answer of the deep social  concerns which gave rise to Brexit.’

His comments were welcomed by the chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson.

'Honesty and clarity'

Mr Hopson said:  ‘We strongly welcome the directness, honesty and clarity of what Simon Stevens has said today. We have been arguing for some time that the NHS can no longer deliver what it needs to on the funding available and it is important that Simon Stevens has said this for the first time clearly and publicly.

‘He is right to warn that without extra funding there will be consequences for patients, who will have to wait longer, and may not get the treatment they should have when they need it.’

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