Socialist Worker

Boris Johnson’s NHS funding promises aren’t good for health

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2666

protesting in Manchester to protect the NHS from Tory cuts

Protesting in Manchester to protect the NHS from Tory cuts (Pic: Sheila/Flickr)


Health campaigners have slammed Boris Johnson’s promise of £1.8 billion for the NHS as a “drop in the ocean”.

Johnson claimed the cash would mean “more beds, new wards and extra life-saving equipment” on Monday.

And he said that £850 million from the one-off payment would help to upgrade 20 hospitals in England.

But Nigel Edwards, Nuffield Trust health charity chief executive, pointed out that a “staggering £6 billion is needed to clear the backlog of NHS maintenance”.

Sally Gainsborough, a Nuffield policy analyst, said that the money had come from an NHS pot of cash that hospitals had been banned from using.

“It’s the equivalent of giving someone cash, then banning them from spending it only to expect cheers of jubilation when you later decide they can spend it after all,” she said.

An incentive deal saw hospital bosses promised money for repairs if they made cuts.

Wuthering Fights—striking for the NHS in Bronte country
Wuthering Fights—striking for the NHS in Bronte country
  Read More

But annual spending limits meant they couldn’t spend this money, making the impact of the cuts worse.

Johnson said the NHS represented the “very best of Britain”.

And he claimed that the health service would not be part of any free trade deal negotiated with Donald Trump.

But the Tories have already forced the market into the NHS, meaning US firms already have contracts through local subsidiaries.

Trade

Johnson is hoping for a round of trade talks with Trump before Britain is set to leave the European Union on 31 October.

A Johnson-Trump negotiated trade deal would simply bolster their access.

The announcement of NHS cash came as Tory officials made preparations for a snap general election.

They fear that Johnson could lose a vote of confidence at the hands of Tory rebels when parliament returns in September.

Another official added, “We have a single-digit majority and we have to be realistic about the chances that a general election is going to happen.”

Johnson’s majority was slashed to just one after the Lib Dems won a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire last week.

It was forced on incumbent Tory MP Christopher Davies, who pleaded guilty to expenses fraud, after over 10,000 people signed a recall petition.

Former minister Dominic Grieve this week said MPs had a number of options “including bringing down the government and setting up a new one in its place”.

Grieve is hoping for a “national government” backed by “moderate” MPs and big business.

And unfortunately Labour front benchers have said that they are talking to former Tory ministers who are opposed to no deal.

Working with Tories is no answer to problems facing ordinary people.

The alternative is to unite ­working class people who voted Leave and Remain in a fight to drive out Johnson’s government.


Households left hard up

Households on low incomes would find it harder to weather another financial crisis, according to a Resolution Foundation report published on Monday.

The report said that working class people are still reeling from the last financial crisis and the austerity that followed.

While the welfare state had shielded poor people from some of its effects, Tory cuts meant this was no longer the case.

James Smith of the Resolution Foundation said, “The deep income squeeze that followed the last financial crisis may have been more equally shared than previous recessions.

“But its depth has had a disproportionate impact on the resilience of lower income households.

“They now have less scope to draw down on savings to weather a further recession than they did after the 2008 crisis.”


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