Jeremy Hunt has broken his pledges on NHS funding and is misleading the public about health service reforms, a committee of MPs has found.
The House of Commons select committee, which is formed of MPs from across different parties, has made the claims in a highly critical report of the Health Secretary’s controversial reforms.
The report finds contrary to government claims to be injecting an extra £8.4bn into the NHS on top of inflation by 2020/21, the real figure was more likely to be £4.5bn.
The committee has claimed the Government has used a different definition of spending to calculate the figures which made it appear that a larger increase in spending had occurred than was actually they case.
They also stated a large amount of money was being used to cover deficits, caused by NHS trusts overspending, rather than representing new injections into front line spending.
The report found: “In previous years, spending reviews have defined health spending as the entirety of the Department for Health’s budget, but the 2015 spending review defines spending in terms of NHS England’s budget, which excludes, for example, spending on public health, education and training.
“Excluding these aspects of spending- which are being cut over the spending review period- is misleading, as these organisations play a vital role in providing front line services to patients, reducing demands through prevention and in training the future workforce. We call on the Government to set out the rationale for changing the definition of health spending.”
They concluded: “Whilst the NHS has been treated favourably compared to many other departments, the increase in health funding is less than was promised if assessed by usual definitions.”
It had originally been reported that Mr Hunt had been dropped from the cabinet by new Prime Minister Theresa May. However, he later announced he was staying on, saying he was "thrilled to be back in the best job in Government."
The controversial minister has being overseeing the ongoing dispute regarding the junior doctors contract which has seen a number of mass walk outs this year after doctors have claimed the contract is unsafe and unfair. However, the Department for Health has denied this and insists the contract will improve quality of care for patients.
In response to the findings, Diane Abbott, Shadow Secretary for Health, said: "The government has been flat out dishonest, promising the health service almost double what they actually plan to spend.
“The Tories are financially squeezing the NHS more than at any time in its history and they’ve tried to cover it up through a number of bogus pledges.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Health told The Independent they stand by the figures: “We reject these conclusions- as the Chief Executive of NHS England said at the time of the Spending Review, we actively supported the NHS’ own plan for the future with the £10 billion extra requested, despite the public finances being tight.
“More than that, we’re providing support to help hospitals make efficiencies and improve productivity as well as national measures to reduce the use of expensive agency staff.”
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