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    An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London.

    'It's Not Child's Birthday': Professor on May's Drive for NHS Budget Rise

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    The UK National Health Service will receive a significant rise in its budget, coinciding with the service's 70th birthday, the country's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt has recently revealed. As former health minister Lord Darzi stated, NHS needs £50bn more by 2030.

    Sputnik has discussed the UK Prime Minister Theresa May's strive for healthcare "sustainable funding increases", promised by Jeremy Hunt, with Professor Malcolm Prowle, professor of business performance at Nottingham business school.

    Sputnik: The prime minister intends to ramp up spending in order to show that the Conservatives can be trusted to run the NHS and because it needs extra cash to tackle chronic understaffing, cope with the aging population and improve care... how significant is this?

    Malcolm: We'll have to see what actually happens first of all. I read that Jeremy Hunt is promising a significant amount in funding, it depends exactly what he means of significant. Do you mean a little bit more than we've had in recent years? Do you mean an average of what we've had for the health service or do you mean what we had back in the 2000s? It depends what we mean by significant, so we'll have to wait and see on that, I'm afraid.

    Sputnik: If this commitment from Theresa May and the government goes ahead, what will this funding look like? For example, will it focus on recruitment and frontline NHS services or wasted on controversial and unpopular PFI contracts? 

    Malcolm: We don't know, if you look at history, in the early 2000s the NHS was getting record growth in funding, and what we know historically is that a proportion of that funding, perhaps 60%, was wasted on things that didn't need to be done, so it's not a very good precedence. It's very difficult for governments to specify what the money is going to be spent on, because local NHS trust quite a bit of discretion on that.

    Sputnik: Time and time again we've seen the current conservative government backtrack on their commitments to the NHS or implement policies that impact doctors and nurses working in the public sector. On top of that, we've also seen the first stages of privatization of the NHS under the governments of Cameron and May. Can public sector workers and moreover the British public really trust the government to increase NHS funding?

    Malcolm: I don't think we can trust any government to deal with constant funding; I have to say what I've seen with Theresa May... this is pathetic. We're talking about a birthday present for the NHS. This is not a child birthday; this is an essential public service and it either needs more money or it doesn't. I'm to think it needs more money and to call it a birthday present is pathetic. This money is our money, we paid our taxes, and this is our money. All their doing is giving us back our money; they're not giving out of their pockets. So I think it's a pathetic way to describe it, if they are saying: "well, we recognize, after long last that the NHS is underfunded and we are going to do something about it..." then at least that's being honest. But they're not being honest.

    The views and opinions expressed by Malcolm Prowle are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.    

    Tags:
    healthcare, National Health Service (NHS), Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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