UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged an extra £1.8 billion cash injection for the NHS on Monday August 5th, Reuters reported. Twenty hospitals in England will receive an extra £850 million in funding for upgrades to outdated facilities and equipment and there will also be an extra £1 billion this year to improve and maintain existing buildings. It comes on top of an extra £20 billion a year by 2020 announced by former Prime Minister Theresa May last year.
In an effort to honour his Brexit promises and referring to the pressures, delays and cancellations facing patients in the nation’s health system, Johnson said these things inspired him to deliver on the pledges of the 2016 referendum campaign.
"Today I'm delivering on this promise with a 1.8 billion pounds cash injection -- meaning more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment to ensure patients continue to receive world-class care," Johnson said in a statement. "It's time to face up to this challenge and make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs to continue being the best healthcare service in the world.”
Johnson, a figurehead for the "Leave" campaign in the 2016 referendum, has long been associated with a pledge, emblazoned on a bus, that Britain could spend £350 million a week on the National Health Service (NHS) if the country left the EU.
This has long been criticised as fanciful by critics but his swift move to fund the upgrade of facilities and equipment and to push on with infrastructure projects is aimed at offering people a taste of what he sees as the benefits of Brexit.
Ahead of his visit to a Lincolnshire hospital, Johnson, speaking to the BBC, explained that the new money, less than 1% of the annual NHS budget, would mean "more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment".
On Sunday, James Cleverly, chairperson of Johnson's Conservative Party, said the funding would come from "economic growth", something the Bank of England has said is under threat from Brexit uncertainty and a slowing global economy. The money will mean roughly £3.5 million per week this year and will be added to Theresa May’s promised £33.9 billion annual increase by 2023/24.
The £850 million is to be spread out over five years, with the remaining £1 billion intended to tackle a backlog of hospital upgrades this year.
The Labour Party responded to the announcement with huge scepticism, seeing it as adroit but superficial and a drop in the ocean which would not fix years of cuts in the NHS.
The party is expected to bring a motion of no confidence in the government after parliament returns to work in September to try to stop a no-deal Brexit but Johnson's top aide was reported as saying such a move would not work.