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The Guardian view on health spending: a broken promise that voters are unlikely to forget or forgive | Editorial

The Guardian view on health spending: a broken promise that voters are unlikely to forget or forgive | Editorial

The Guardian view on health spending: a broken promise that voters are unlikely to forget or forgive | Editorial
May 14, 2024 48 secs

In 2010, the Commons health select committee warned the new Conservative-led government that the NHS in England was facing cuts rather than the promised real-terms increases.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said this week that day-to-day NHS spending had grown by 2.7% a year during the current parliament, well short of the 3.3% annual increases pledged by Boris Johnson in 2019.

Long waiting lists at hospitals for elective operations and frustration over the lack of access to GPs have led to public satisfaction with the health service plummeting to an all-time low.

But there has been resistance in Conservative ranks to viewing the NHS as a national investment that improves societal wellbeing, protects people from the financial consequences of illness, reduces health inequalities and supports economic growth.

Labour has signed up to the government’s NHS workforce plan, which implies annual budget increases of 3.6% a year in real terms.

A winter flu crisis and rising public anger forced Tony Blair ’s hand over NHS spending in 2000.

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