Use Brexit crisis fund to pay for the NHS, John McDonnell says

Jon Sharman

John McDonnell has said the Government should use billions of pounds it is saving for Brexit to shore up the NHS and social care.

The Labour Shadow Chancellor told Andrew Marr that “independent estimates” suggested the health system needs an injection of between £8bn and £12bn, having taken to the streets on Saturday to protest underfunding in the NHS.

He said: “We believe that the Government now have put aside, as is reported, £60bn – increased tax receipts in January have contributed to this as well – for a crisis in case of Brexit.

“The crisis is here now. We should prepare for Brexit but some of that money now needs to deal with the crisis in the NHS and social care.”

He also said he and Jeremy Corbyn had joined tens of thousands of people in London to protest cuts to NHS funding on Saturday.

“We were there to listen to people,” he added.

Speaking to the crowd, Mr Corbyn said: “Our NHS is not in crisis because of overspending, it’s in crisis because of underfunding, a crisis made down there in Downing Street”.

A rumoured 250,000 people were in attendance, with more than 150 coaches bringing NHS workers from all across the country to take part.

Union leaders rallying for the march said many NHS services were “on their knees” already and that attention must be drawn to plans which could lead to nearly two-thirds of services in England being cut back.

And the Conservative head of the Commons Health Committee has warned NHS reforms will “fail”, risking patient safety, without an emergency rescue in next week’s Budget.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Sarah Wollaston urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to change course, or watch the “suffering” public turn against the Government’s running of the health service.

Dr Wollaston criticised claims that the NHS is “on a sustainable footing”, insisting that was simply not true because spending was failing to keep pace with soaring demand.

And she said it was vital the Chancellor – when delivering his Budget on Wednesday – finds extra funds for both adult social care and local NHS renewal plans, across the country.

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