Unite demands Hammond to ‘open chequebook’ for NHS at Spring Budget

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has been urged by the Unite union to “open the cheque book” and provide fresh funding for health and social care in his Spring budget next week.

With the union gearing up for a pro-NHS protest in the capital on Saturday, it has now called on the chancellor to make funds available for services that are waning under enormous demand.

Unite’s 100,000 members in the health sector will protest for a reversal of the £22bn worth of ‘savings’ that the government has planned to make by 2020, whilst also demanding that the £2.8bn shortfall in social care provision should also be tackled.

Unite’s national officer for health, Sarah Carpenter, said: “The NHS, which is underpinned by a brilliant and dedicated workforce, has struggled throughout this winter. The evidence that the health service is starved of cash has been horrific with patients waiting on trolleys for treatment.

“When Philip Hammond gets up to deliver his budget next week, he needs to open his cheque book and be generous to the NHS – it is what the British public wants.”

She added: “He can take comfort from the boost in self-assessment tax receipts and a bumper flow of capital gains tax to the exchequer that has sent the government’s borrowing bill to its lowest January level in 17 years.

“The NHS crisis and the challenges facing social care are intricately linked and it is something that some Tories are concerned about. It was the Conservative-controlled Surrey county council that was contemplating a referendum on a 15 per cent rise in council tax to pay for social care.”

Unite also accused STPs as being used as a “smokescreen” to cover hospital and other service closures and a “ruse” for the conservative government to further the privatisation of the NHS.

Speaking ahead of the budget, shadow chancellor John McDonnell emphasised the need for greater funding, whilst also describing the NHS as one of Labour’s three top economic priorities for the country.

McDonnell said: “Given that we’re facing an immediate crisis in the NHS and social care, I’m calling on the chancellor to use that money to address this NHS and social care emergency.

“The present Conservative government has been condemned for its fast-and-loose approach to NHS spending. The chief executive of NHS England has dismissed government claims that current funding is adequate – let alone more than was asked for.”

The shadow chancellor also said that the government must address the emergency in health and social care, adding that the Office of Budget Responsibility should be given a role overseeing health spending.

He continued: “The Public Accounts Committee has rebuked this government for raiding the NHS capital budget to meet NHS spending.

“The reality is that this government has consistently failed to provide the funding that the NHS needs, and that it will continue to need into the future.”

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