Theresa May 'misleading' public on £10bn NHS funding, say MPs

Health select committee says true figure of investment is closer to £4.5bn and calls for greater spending

Protesters march to voice their concerns over the state of the NHS 

Prime Minister Theresa May is giving the public a "false impression" about the state of NHS funding, the chair of the Commons health select committee has warned.

In a strongly worded open letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond, Dr Sarah Wollaston and four other MPs said the £10bn cash injection into the health service repeatedly cited by May was in reality closer to £4.5bn – and still not nearly enough to keep the service sustainable.

Both the PM and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has also used the figure, are giving the public the "false impression" that the NHS was "awash with cash", the MPs say.

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The BBC reports the £10bn of additional funding between now and 2021 is being offset by cuts to non-frontline services, such as funding to train health professionals and money for the maintenance of hospitals and clinics.

The committee warned in July that cuts would "impact on everything from staffing to health promotion schemes, such as obesity programmes, which have a direct impact on the frontline", the broadcaster adds.

When these are taken into account, the health select committee found the £10bn investment is worth only £4.5bn in real terms.

There are also arguments the rise is worth even less. The Nuffield Trust, a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve healthcare in the UK, argues the £10bn becomes just £800m when inflation associated with a projected increase in drug prices and the cost of new treatments is taken into account.

The MPs have called on Hammond's Autumn Statement to pledge more money for healthcare, especially to social care, which has reached a "tipping point" following waves of cuts.

The committee also warned "the entire funding precept raised by local authorities through the council tax had been swallowed up meeting the demands of the living wages", The Independent reports.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said May and Hunt's claims were "totally disingenuous and misleading" and Wollaston was "right to take them to task".

A government spokesman insisted the NHS would receive a "£10bn real-terms increase in its funding a year by 2020-21" and it was "wrong to suggest otherwise".

He added: "We have also allowed local government to increase social care spending by the end of parliament, with access to up to £3.5bn of new support."

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