Use £350 million a week to double A&E funding, say Vote Leave Watch MPs

Just £52 million of the £350 million a week promised for the NHS by Leave campaigners could double the A&E budget; enough to overcome the crisis facing accident and emergency care in England.

Vote Leave Watch MPs from Labour and the Liberal Democrats say today that the Government should commit to the promise made by five of its cabinet ministers – Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling – to spend an extra £350 million a week on the NHS after Brexit.

New figures from the House of Commons Library show that the cost of A&E and urgent care for the NHS in the most recent financial year was £2.7bn. Doubling this would cost £52 million a week, or just 15 per cent of the £350 million a week promised by the Leavers. This would still leave £298 million a week to be spent on other parts of the NHS, such as GP services, social care, and mental health.

It comes as the House of Commons voted down an amendment to the Article 50 legislation which would have required the Government to publish analysis of the impact of Brexit on health spending. The amendment, which was put down by Chuka Umunna MP and supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MPs, was opposed by every pro-Leave Conservative MP; including all those who had made the £350m pledge themselves.

The NHS has been undergoing one of its worst crises in recent history this winter. More patients spent over four hours in A&E this January than in any month for 13 years, while leaked documents suggest as many as one in six A&E departments could be closed or downgraded by 2021 in order to save money.

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

“After seven years of incompetent Tory Government, our NHS has lurched from crisis to crisis. Ministers talk about efficiencies and reorganisations, but all the experts agree that there is no running away from the fact that it needs more money.

“To overcome the problems the NHS is facing during winter, the Government must use the money promised by Leave campaigners to give A&E services the boost they need. Doubling the A&E budget would cost only £52 million a week – a fraction of the amount they promised.

“Boris Johnson and his friends need to show us the money – or else admit to the British people that they spent the referendum campaign lying about their intention to increase NHS funding.”

Norman Lamb MP, Patron of Vote Leave Watch and Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, said:

"The NHS is currently undergoing its worst winter crisis for years. There are many causes, such as a shortage of GPs and a lack of decent community social care. But it is accident and emergency services that are bearing the brunt, and desperately need new investment.

“Five members of the current cabinet spent the referendum campaign in a big red bus promising to spend £350 million more a week on the NHS.

“They need to keep their promise and give our NHS the funding it needs to overcome the pressure it is under.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

The details of the amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill are here: http://www.voteleavewatch.org.uk/52_mps_support_article_50_amendment_calling_for_350m_nhs_pledge_to_be_kept.

Vote Leave promised to spend £350 million a week extra on the NHS after Brexit. This amounts to £18.2 billion a year. 

The Department of Health estimates that in 2015-16 – the most recent financial year for which figures exist – the cost of accident and emergency and urgent care to the NHS was £2.7 billion.

Therefore, doubling the NHS A&E budget would cost £2.7bn – or less than eight weeks of the £350 million a week promised by Leave campaigners. This is just 15% of the £18.2bn, or £52 million a week. This would still leave £15.5bn a year left to spend on other aspects of the NHS.

In response to a parliamentary question from Chuka Umunna MP, Philip Dunne, the Minister of State for Health, said:

The reference costs for accident and emergency and urgent care collected by healthcare resource groups (HRG) show an estimate of the total cost of accident and emergency (A&E) and urgent care for the last 6 years.

Total estimated cost of A&E and urgent care 2010/­11 to 2015­/16:

Year

Estimated cost (£ billions)

2010-11

1.9

2011-12

2.0

2012-13

2.1

2013-14

2.3

2014-15

2.5

2015-16

2.7

During the referendum campaign, members of the current cabinet promised to spend £350 million more a week on the NHS after Brexit: 

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade: “Instead of handing over £350m a week to Brussels we should be spending that money on local priorities like the Welsh NHS, which has faced a billion pounds of cuts by the Welsh Labour Government since 2011.” Link.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport: “Getting to a proper seven day NHS could make a real difference to this country. It would be so much easier to pay for that change if we took back control of our £350 million a week contribution to the EU and spent it on our priorities.” Link.

Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary: Boris stood in front of a sign at Vote Leave HQ that read: “Let’s give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week”. Link.

Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: She was pictured in front of the Vote Leave bus, which featured the slogan “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” Link.

Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development: “The UK sends an eye-watering £350 million to the EU every week. That’s enough to build a new fully staffed hospital.” Link.