MPs pile pressure on May over NHS funding

A group of 90 MPs, including former Tory ministers, have written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor calling for urgent funding for the NHS and social care.

The letter – signed by 33 Conservative MPs – piles pressure on the Government to “address the short term pressures on the system” in next week’s Budget, in order to address public anxiety about services which are under “considerable strain”.

It also calls on Theresa May to set up an NHS and Care Convention, which would work across party political lines to come up with a “sustainable” system in the long-term.

Philip Hammond already faces calls to lift the public sector pay cap and invest in a new programme of house-building in Wednesday’s statement, against a backdrop of economic and political constraints.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

Image: Philip Hammond is set to announce the Budget next week

But the MPs express concerns that the issue of adult social care has been kicked into the long grass after the Conservatives’ election manifesto pledge was branded a “dementia tax” and had to be dropped.

The letter is co-ordinated by Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, Lib Dem former minister Norman Lamb and Labour MP Liz Kendall.

It says: “With the Budget coming up, we hope that the Government will seek to address the short-term pressure on the system.

“But we also repeat our call for you to endorse our proposal to establish a cross-party process in the form of an NHS and Care Convention in order to deliver a sustainable, long-term settlement…

“We believe that together we owe a duty to the people of this country to confront the serious challenges the NHS and care system now face.

“This would give hope both to the public and to staff working in the NHS and the social care system, many of whom have real anxieties about the future sustainability of public services.”

NHS staff push a bed down a hospital corridor

Video: NHS boss asks for promised Brexit money

NHS England has been lobbying for more money for hospitals, with boss Simon Stevens claiming an additional £4bn is needed to slash waiting lists for operations.

Meanwhile, councils have been warning that seven years of cuts to their budgets have put adult care services under unbearable strain.

The Government points out that it recently injected £2bn into social care.

Dr Wollaston, who spoke to the Prime Minister in February about setting up a national convention on health and care, said progress had been stalled by the General Election but must resume in order to respond to the pressures of an ageing population.

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Sarah Wollaston

Image: Dr Wollaston spoke to Mrs May in February about a convention on health and care

The letter is signed by 15 committee chairs, 22 former minister, six former secretaries of state and prominent shadow ministers.

Mr Hammond has a difficult balancing act, with pressure from some in his party to continue cutting the deficit and not to raise taxes, and other MPs saying he must be bold.

Robert Halfon, the party’s former deputy chairman, told the Financial Times: “The Budget is the most important event since the election.

“It’s a chance for the Government to be radical, to deal with the most important issues facing the country: skills, housing, cost of living, the NHS and social care. Safety first will be the wrong approach.”