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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed that the NHS will receive a ‘significant increase’ in its budget as part of the service's 70th birthday.
In his interview with the Guardian, Hunt said that Prime Minister Theresa May is committed to increasing spending in order to show that her government can be trusted to run the NHS and provide the extra investment needed to tackle chronic understaffing, cope with the ageing population and improve care.
While a deal is still not reported to be agreed, Hunt told the newspaper that people ‘should not underestimate how committed she [May] is to the NHS’, and stated that the Prime Minister ‘appreciates’ his views and campaigning for ‘significant and sustainable funding increases to meet the demographic challenges we face’.
The Health Secretary has been urging the Prime Minister to make the funding boost as close as possible to the four per cent annual increases the NHS enjoyed before the coalition came to power in 2010. However, reports suggest that the Treasury believes that anything above 2.5 per cent is unaffordable.
However, his interview also revealed that the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS are unlikely to be able to fulfil his pledge, first made in 2015, to boost the number of GPs in England by 5,000 by 2020. The MP for South West Surrey said that while he is not abandoning the ‘very, very important pledge’, it was 'taking a bit longer than I had hoped'.
Hunt said: “We do need 5,000 more GPs and we are struggling to deliver that pledge, but I’m absolutely determined to do so because GPs are working incredibly hard; too hard. I got quite widely ridiculed when I made the pledge in 2015. I wanted to nail my colours to the mast of getting more GPs into the system. But it has been harder than we thought.”
The Guardian interview was in recognition of Hunt becoming the longest serving Health Secretary in history.
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