Could Brexit Bus NHS Money 'Lies' Come True?

Tim Locke

July 25, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's said his main priority is Brexit but he also signalled extra money for social care and the NHS. 

Some Vote Leave officials have even been briefing about meeting the promise of £350 million a week going to the NHS instead of the EU. That figure was written across the Vote Leave referendum campaign bus but was widely discredited, including by the UK Statistics Authority. It even featured in a recent failed private prosecution against Mr Johnson.

We've yet to see the policy detail but in his arrival speech in Downing Street the new PM said: "My job is to make sure you don't have to wait 3 weeks to see your GP - and we start work this week, with 20 new hospital upgrades, and ensuring that money for the NHS really does get to the front line.

"My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care.

"And so I am announcing now - on the steps of Downing Street - that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve."

Health Secretary Keeps His Job

Through resignations or by being fired, Prime Minister Johnson has cleared out most of Mrs May's ministers and mostly replaced them with Brexit supporters.

The Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock became a Boris Johnson supporter after abandoning the Conservative leadership race – and kept his job. On Twitter he said: "I love the NHS - it’s a great honour to be asked to drive forward the health & care of the nation - with big & exciting commitments from our new Prime Minister."

Earlier this week Mr Hancock was criticised for 'burying' proposals to tackle causes of preventable ill health in England. A green paper on the plans was published on the eve of Mrs May leaving office and saw some widely anticipated public health measures being abandoned.

One of the PM's key appointments as special adviser was the former Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings.

Yesterday afternoon ITV's political editor Robert Peston reported on Twitter: "One hugely important consequence of Vote Leave and Cummings takeover of 10 Downing Street is they will endeavour to properly and URGENTLY honour the bus promise of £350m a week for NHS.

"A senior Vote Leave source tells me to expect "big NHS rebuilding programme very 'fast'. He added: "Our team was deadly serious about the NHS and with Brexit it will be their top priority to get cash to [the] frontline starting immediately.""

Health and Social Care

Health and social care announcements were key policy areas the think-tank The King's Fund told Medscape News UK it was looking for after the leadership race.

The two go hand-in-hand. Lack of available adult social care, funded by local authorities and individuals in England, tends to add pressures on the NHS – including problems discharging older patients to suitable accommodation. When people are no longer able to look after themselves in their own homes the costs of social care can also be taken from their own funds or equity in property they own.

Responding to the social care commitment, Sally Copley, director of policy and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said in a statement: "It is hugely encouraging to hear the Prime Minister promise to fix the social care crisis in his first address to the nation. It is abundantly clear that swift and decisive action is needed – care reform has been ignored for decades and the system is on its knees.

"The commitment to protect people from having to sell their homes and give older people the respect they are owed is long awaited and one that we will hold the PM and his Government to account for."

The British Medical Association focused its reaction to the new Government on the Chancellor Sajid Javid: "We hope he will take the opportunity for immediate action to address the pension taxation issue facing thousands of NHS staff."


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