Rishi Sunak refuses to back calls for NHS funding boost | NHS

Rishi Sunak refuses to back calls for NHS funding boost | NHS

Rishi Sunak has refused to back calls to increase the health service’s budget in a bid to ease staffing pressures that have already sparked strikes by nurses and ambulance workers, and could soon prompt young doctors to go on strike as well.

Asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland if there was scope for a one-time increase in health spending, the prime minister added: “There is already record funding in the National Health Service …despite the difficult decisions we have had to make to rein in lending and address inflation.”

His comments on Friday reflect Treasury’s refusal to provide extra money for a one-time deal with health care workers, even as Health Secretary Steve Barclay privately admitted more money would be needed to end the strikes.

The Guardian revealed on thursday that Barclay had recognized that more than 1 million front-line employees deserved more money, despite previously insisting that the government could not afford to go beyond the existing £1,400 grant for 2022-23.

Government sources say, however, that the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has ruled out the use of central government funds for any wage increase offer, and has instead told Barclay to seek between £2bn and £3bn from the your department’s own budget.

Sunak also said he was willing to look at the UK system for granting visas to health and social care workers to make sure it was working efficiently. But he did not say that Brexit added to the staffing pressures facing the health service.

The prime minister spoke from Scotland, where he met Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Inverness on Thursday night. He said they had discussed a variety of issues, including the health service, but also Scottish independence.

The supreme court of the United Kingdom ruled last year that Holyrood did not have the power to hold a referendum without the UK government’s agreement, a decision which has angered the Scottish National Party and has led to a support increase for independence

Sunak said the high court ruling was “relatively clear” that Scotland did not have the power to hold a unilateral referendum. But he insisted that he wanted a constructive relationship with Sturgeon and the SNP after several years of occasionally thorny relations between the two governments.

Sunak also said he was “concerned” about the UK-wide impact of changes to gender recognition legislation passed last month by Holyrood Parliament.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Scotland) will allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate without the need for a medical diagnosis.

The prime minister declined to say whether Westminster would block the legislation, saying the government is taking advice on the matter “as is completely standard practice.”

He added: “Obviously this is a very sensitive area and I know there were very robust discussions and exchanges around it while the bill was being passed in Scotland.

“There may be UK-wide impacts that we need to be aware of and understand the impact of, and that’s what we’re doing, and once the government has received final advice, it will set out the next steps.”

Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, accused Sunak of “playing politics” over gender identification. He said it would be “absurd” if the rest of the UK decided not to recognize gender recognition certificates issued in Scotland.

Sunak also said friday announcement of two new free ports for Scotland around the Cromarty Firth and Firth of Forth were an example of how Westminster and Holyrood worked together effectively.

The First Minister said: “I look forward to a constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government, to ensure that we can continue to deliver to the people of Scotland. Today’s announcement about the two new free ports is a great example that we are doing that.”

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