Extra NHS funding will come from tax rises as well as the ‘Brexit dividend’, Theresa May has said.
In a speech on Monday, the Prime Minister outlined plans to give an extra £20.5 billion a year to the NHS.
She did not reveal how all the money would be raised, but said: "Some of the extra funding I am promising today will come from using the money we will no longer spend on our annual membership subscription to the European Union after we have left."
She acknowledged some money would still be given to the EU but said "there will still be more money coming back from the EU and our priority for that is the NHS".
To increase funding even further, tax rises would be necessary, she added. "So across the nation, taxpayers will have to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way to support the NHS we all use."
In her speech, she spoke of continued growth for NHS funding until 2024.
"We cannot continue to put a sticking plaster on the NHS budget each year," she said.
Listen to Chris Philp discussing the extra funding with Julia Hartley-Brewer above
"So we will do more than simply give the NHS a one-off injection of cash.
"Under our plan, NHS funding will grow on average by 3.4% in real terms each year from 2019/20 to 2023/24.
"We will also provide an additional £1.25 billion each year to cover a specific pensions pressure.
"By 2023/24 the NHS England budget will increase by £20.5 billion in real terms compared with today. That means it will be £394 million a week higher in real terms.
"So the NHS will be growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole, reflecting the fact that the NHS is this Government's number one spending priority."
Source of money to be decided
MP Chris Philp told Julia Hartley-Brewer said “the time to set out where all the money’s coming from is in the budget in November”.
Listen to Justin Madders speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer above
“It’s like we’re in a bizarre parallel universe where the government can say yes we’re going to spend all this money but have absolutely no detail on where it’s coming from,” said Justin Madders, shadow minister for health and social care.
“You’ve got to remember this is about 3.4% is well below the historical increase the NHS is used to getting.”
May also said bureaucracy must be cut down and communication between services improved, and that improving mental health services was a “personal priority”.
Brexit dividend 'tosh'
Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative chair on the Commons Health Committee said a Brexit dividend was “tosh”, while shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government's plans were "just not credible" without details of how they would be funded.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was critical: "The money announced today by the Prime Minister is not enough to save our NHS after eight years of Conservative austerity.
"Although she confirmed the current situation is not sustainable, today's figures represent little more than a standstill in funding, according to experts. "
He added: "If the Conservatives do manage to publish the detail of their insufficient 3.4% increase, then Labour's fully-costed plans to raise taxes for the top 5% and big business will top up NHS spending growth to around the 5% which is needed."