Theresa May's NHS funding pledge insufficient - campaigners

The NHS logo on an entrance sign for the Royal Victoria Infirmary a teaching hospital which includes an accident and emergency department...Part of an NHS hospital entrance sign in Newcastle E

As she prepared for a major speech in London on Monday, the Prime Minister was coming under pressure to explain exactly how she will pay for the planned 3.4% increase in NHS spending.

During the 2016 referendum campaign Brexiteers, including Boris Johnson, travelled around the country in a Vote Leave bus emblazoned with the slogan: "We send the European Union £350 million a week, let's fund our NHS instead".

It was also tailored to send a positive message to the 48 per cent of Britons who in 2016 wanted to remain in the European Union - many of whom are still unconvinced about Brexit as the Mar 29, 2019 exit date approaches. "Let's fund our NHS instead", said the slogan, infuriating the Remain campaign which bitterly disputed the figures.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's big announcement of more money for the cash-strapped National Health Service should have been an easy political win.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, health minister Jeremy Hunt said: "There's a total understanding across the government that the health and social care systems are interdependent and that to make this settlement work we also need a long-term plan for the social care system as the next step".

The NHS marks its 70th anniversary this year.

"This will help stem further decline in the health service, but it's simply not enough to address the fundamental challenges facing the NHS, or fund essential improvements to services that are flagging".

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It is expected tax and borrowing will rise to pay for the increase in funding.

Any increase in funding for the health service in England is reflected in the Barnett formula, used to distribute Treasury funds across the devolved nations.

Tory chair of the Commons Health Committee Sarah Wollaston branded talk of a Brexit bonanza "tosh", while shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government's plans were "just not credible" without details of how they would be funded.

She said some of the spending boost would be the result of a "Brexit dividend" as the United Kingdom would soon no longer be sending large sums to Brussels. "It must be a plan that enjoys the support of NHS staff across the country - not something dreamt up in Whitehall and centrally imposed". However, because of United Kingdom spending commitments made during Brexit negotiations, no such "dividend" will exist until at least 2022.

Financial analysis by the Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies, published last month, suggested the NHS needed at least 3% annual increases not to deteriorate, but 4% in order to be able to put into action NHS England's ambitious transformation plans. "Tackling the huge disparity in access to mental health care will have to be an aspiration, rather than reality for another five years".

The funding is supposed to come in part from a much debated "Brexit dividend", which the government argued would bring £9 billion into the struggling health services. What kind of tax increase this would amount to remains a Cabinet secret.

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