Tony Blair dismisses Theresa May’s diagnosis of Labour health spending

Written by David Singleton on 18 June 2018 in Diary

The PM claims that cash spent by Labour ‘did not go on directly improving patient care’.

As Theresa May fleshes out her plans for extra NHS cash, much of the scepticism has focused on the idea that Brexit will pay for it.

Both the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank have warned the PM that her expected Brexit boost will not materialise. 

Meanwhile Tory MP Sarah Wollaston has let rip about her leader’s “Brexit dividend tosh” and tweeted that it was “sad to see government slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issue”.

But Tony Blair has taken issue with something else – namely the prime minister’ repeated suggestion that much of the Labour extra spending on health was a waste of money.

“In 2002, the then Labour Government significantly increased NHS funding, but much of this did not go on directly improving patient care,” stated the prime minister in her speech, having made the same claim over the weekend."

She went on: "That cannot happen again. So in return for this increase in funding, the government will agree with the NHS later this year - a ten year plan for its future. This must be a plan that ensures every penny is well spent."

Step forward the man who spent the cash. In response, Blair said that May probably did not understand how the NHS worked:

“The prime minister said today that nearly half of Labour’s record increase in investment in the NHS during the last Labour government was not spent on patients. I simply don’t know what she means by that. But if the implication is that, because significant investment went on increased numbers of staff, including nurses and doctors, better pay and a huge uplift in hospital building and NHS facilities, this is not money spent on patients, it shows how little this government understands the NHS and its challenges.”

In a statement on his website, the former prime minister added:

“This investment was absolutely necessary to deliver the significant cuts we saw in waiting lists and waiting times and the dramatically improved results in cancer and cardiac care the new Labour government oversaw, resulting in some of the highest patient satisfaction levels ever seen. All of which, of course, have slid into reverse under this Conservative government.”

“This programme of investment and reform was supported by a clear and specific increase in national insurance – unlike the plans announced today which appear to be dependent on mystery tax increases and a mythical Brexit dividend the IFS confirms cannot fund the extra spending.”


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