Health professionals call on Tories to include £350m pledge in manifesto

The Conservatives must include Vote Leave’s pledge to spend £350 million extra a week on the National Health Service in their election manifesto, nearly 50 senior health professionals say today [Wednesday], ahead of the expected launch of the Conservative manifesto tomorrow.

In an open letter organised by Vote Leave Watch and the Healthier In campaign, the group of medical doctors, academics and public health experts say that for the mandate of the referendum to be respected, the Conservatives “must promise in their manifesto to spend £350 million extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union.”

They continue to say that “failing to do so would reveal the hollowness of their pledge.” Labour’s Chuka Umunna, Chair of Vote Leave Watch, said that failure to deliver the promise would show the Conservatives to be “a cynical shower of hard Brexiteers.”

It comes after the NHS suffered its worst winter crisis in years. The health professionals say this requires more spending to overcome, and that if this is not forthcoming, “there is no cause for optimism in thinking that next winter might be better.”

The leader of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings, has admitted the importance of the £350m pledge, writing in a blog: “Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No.” Despite this, Tory MPs voted down Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Article 50 Bill on £350m, and the Prime Minister has refused to guarantee that it will be delivered.

In the open letter, the 49 health professionals say:

“As health professionals with long experience in the National Health Service and medical research, we know that the NHS faces a critical funding situation. The Government bases its mandate for leaving the EU on the vote in the referendum. Yet the iconic symbol of the campaign to leave was the claim that there would be £350 million extra every week for the NHS.

“Tomorrow, the Conservative Party is expected to set out its manifesto for this general election – an election, we should not forget, that they called in order to gain a bigger mandate for Brexit negotiations with the EU. We are absolutely clear that they must promise in their manifesto to spend £350 million extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union. Such an injection of funding would have a transformational impact on our National Health Service. Failing to do so would reveal the hollowness of their pledge, and let down everyone who works in, cares about and depends on our NHS.”

Commenting, Chuka Umunna, Chair of Vote Leave Watch, said:

“Spending £350 million extra a week on the NHS was the iconic pledge of the Vote Leave campaign, emblazoned on a bus that ferried senior Tories across the country. Their own campaign director admitted they would not have won the referendum without that pledge.

“That, along with the perilous state of our National Health Service’s finances, makes it vital that these Tories keep their promise to the voters and deliver the £350 million extra a week after Brexit.

“The Prime Minister says she is calling this election to strengthen her hand in negotiations. If Brexit really means Brexit, then it has to mean the Vote Leave’s NHS promise is delivered. This pledge must be in the Tory manifesto when they release it tomorrow.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors:

The full letter from 49 medical professionals is below:

“As health professionals with long experience in the National Health Service and medical research, we know that the NHS faces a critical funding situation. The Government bases its mandate for leaving the EU on the vote in the referendum. Yet the iconic symbol of the campaign to leave was the claim that there would be £350 million extra every week for the NHS.

“Last winter, waiting times in accident and emergency units hit their highest rate since targets were introduced 13 years ago. In January, a staggering 60,000 people had to wait in A&E for a hospital bed for more than four hours – sometimes for as long as 12 hours. The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for an operation rose by 100,000 to its highest level in five years. Since 2011, the previous continuous decline in death rates among people over 75 has halted and may even have reversed.

“If last winter was bad, there is no cause for optimism in thinking that next winter might be better. The NHS is undertaking heroic efficiency savings, but nobody with any knowledge of healthcare believes that this alone can deliver the spending needed to overcome the current crisis. The Government has promised £8bn in more funding – but the chief executive of NHS England himself has disputed this, saying the Government’s claims are “stretching it”.

“The Government needs to come up with a plan to give the NHS the extra money it desperately needs. Senior members of the Vote Leave campaign, responsible for the claim of an extra £350 million per week for the National Health Service, are now in the cabinet, including Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Grayling, and Liam Fox. Just last month, Mr Johnson said “of course” he still stood by that figure.

“Tomorrow, the Conservative Party is expected to set out its manifesto for this general election – an election, we should not forget, that they called in order to gain a bigger mandate for Brexit negotiations with the EU. We are absolutely clear that they must promise in their manifesto to spend £350 million extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union. Such an injection of funding would have a transformational impact on our National Health Service. Failing to do so would reveal the hollowness of their pledge, and let down everyone who works in, cares about and depends on our NHS.”

Full list of signatories:

1.       Professor Raymond Agius MD FRCP – Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Manchester

2.       Dr Christopher A Birt – President, EUPHA Section on Food and Nutrition, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool

3.       Professor Dorothy Bishop, FBA, FMedSci, FRS – Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology, University of Oxford

4.       Dr Ben Caplin – Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant, Centre for Nephrology, UCL Medical School

5.       Dr Alastair Cardno

6.       Dr Kailash Chand OBE – Former Deputy Chair, the British Medical Association

7.       Dr Michel P Coleman BA BM BCh MSc FFPH – Professor of Epidemiology and Vital Statistics, Cancer Survival Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

8.       Dr Maxwell S. Damian, MD, PhD, FNCS

9.       Rob Davidson – Executive Director, Healthier In

10.   Professor Carol Dezateux FRCPCH FRCP FFPH FMedSci CBE – Professor of Epidemiology, University College London

11.   Dr Jonathan Frankel – Consultant Neurologist, Wesssex Neurological Centre, Southampton University Hospital

12.   Dr Mike Galsworthy – Co-Founder, Healther In

13.   Professor Claire Gerada – Former Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners

14.   Anna Gilmore, Professor of Public Health, University of Bath and Director Tobacco Control Research Group, Department of Health

15.   Professor Mark Gilthorpe - Professor of Statistical Epidemiology, University of Leeds

16.   Trisha Greenhalgh OBE – Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

17.   Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE

18.   Dominic Harrison – Director of Public Health, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

19.   Dr Iona Heath CBE – former President, Royal College of General Practitioners

20.   Simon Heller – Professor of Clinical Diabetes, University of Sheffield

21.   Professor Matthew Hotopf FMedSci

22.   Dr Roberta Jacobson OBE

23.   Dr. Lynne Jones OBE, FRCPsych

24.   Professor Debbie Lawlor - Professor of Epidemiology, University of Bristol

25.   Professor Alastair Leyland – University of Glasgow

26.   Dr Henry McKee MRCGP

27.   Professor Martin McKee – Professor of European Public Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

28.   Sir Robin Murray - Professor of Psychiatric Research, King's College London

29.   Dr David Nicholl FRCP – Consultant Neurologist, Birmingham

30.   Dr Kevin O'Kane - Consultant in Acute Internal Medicine, London

31.   Dr Victor Patterson

32.   Dr Richard K H Petty MD FRCP

33.   Anne Marie Rafferty CBE DPhil (Oxon) RN FRCN FAAN – Professor of Nursing Policy, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College, London

34.   Salman Rawaf, MD PhD FRCP FFPHM – Professor of Public Health, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London

35.   Dr Harry Rutter – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

36.   Jane Salvage – Fellow, Royal College of Nursing, and Visiting Professor, School of Nursing, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

37.   Dr Patrick Saunders FFPH – Visiting Professor of Public Health, University of Staffordshire

38.   Professor Jan Scott - Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Newcastle

39.   Dr Quentin Shaw FRCGP MRCP – Senior Partner, Stirchley Medical Practice, Telford

40.   Professor Liam Smeeth – Head of Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines

41.   Sir Richard Thompson - former President, the Royal College of Physicians 

42.   Julie Ward - Labour MEP for North West England

43.   John C. Waterton MA PhD CSci FRSC(UK) – Professor of Translational Imaging, Centre for Imaging Sciences, Division of Informatics Imaging & Data Sciences, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology Medicine & Health, University of Manchester

44.   Dr Eric Watts – Chair, Doctors for the NHS

45.   Professor Tony Weetman – Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Sheffield

46.   Greg Williams – Research Associate, Division of Population Health, Health Services Research & Primary Care, University of Manchester

47.   Professor Dame Til Wykes – Vice Dean Psychology and Systems Sciences, King's College London

48.   Prof John S Yudkin MD FRCP – Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University College London

49.   Martin Yuille MA PhD – Honorary Reader, Centre for Epidemiology, Division of Population Health, University of Manchester

References:

·         A&E waiting times have hit record levels, and in January 60,000 people were left waiting for a hospital bed for at least four hours: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38907492

·         The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for an operation rose by 100,000 to its highest level in five years: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/nhs-has-worst-winter-record-number-surgery-waiting-lists-soars/

·         Since 2011, the previous continuous decline in death rates among people over 75 has halted and may even have reversed: Hiam L, Dorling D, Harrison D, McKee M. Why has mortality in England and Wales been increasing? An iterative demographic analysis. J Roy Soc Med 2017: 110:153–162

·         Simon Stevens has dismissed the Government’s claims on health spending: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/11/nhs-england-chief-executive-simon-stevens-funding-theresa-may-public-accounts-committee

·         In April 2017, Boris Johnson said “of course” he stills stands by the £350m figure:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tony-blair-theresa-may-win-general-election-jeremy-corbyn-labour-leader-uk-prime-minister-a7705026.html

·         Dominic Cummings, Campaign Director of Vote Leave, said after the referendum that “the £350 million / NHS argument was necessary to win”. He went on to say “would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No”: https://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/on-the-referendum-21-branching-histories-of-the-2016-referendum-and-the-frogs-before-the-storm-2/

·         Theresa May has already refused to commit to the £350m pledge: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/04/theresa-may-refuses-to-guarantee-brexit-pledges-on-immigration-and-nhs

·         Tory MPs, including those who campaigned to leave, voted against Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Article 50 bill calling on them to deliver the £350m: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexiteers-condemned-for-not-backing-350m-nhs-amendment-to-eu-withdrawal-bill-a7570336.html


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