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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

New PM Boris Johnson to spend $2.2 billion on upgrade to UK hospitals

During the 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson’s pro-Brexit campaign emblazoned a slogan on the side of its battle bus that pledged extra cash for the NHS if the country voted to leave the EU.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2019 10:03 IST
Steve Geimann
Steve Geimann
Bloomberg
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) in additional funding for the National Health Service.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) in additional funding for the National Health Service. (Reuters File Photo )
         

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) in additional funding for the National Health Service, delivering on a pledge made during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign.

The money will be used to add hospital beds, wards and cutting-edge equipment, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. Of the total, 850 million pounds will be used at 20 hospitals nationwide.

“We will deliver on the priority of the people of this country – to ensure that the NHS has the funding it needs to continue to be one of the best healthcare services in the world,” Johnson wrote in an opinion piece in the Sunday Times.

Johnson, who will discuss the funding Monday during a visit to a hospital, vowed three years ago as leader of the Leave campaign that funds would be committed to the health system if Britons voted to leave the European Union.

“I am so determined to deliver now on the promises of that 2016 referendum campaign.” Johnson wrote, noting NHS staff treated him last year after a shard of glass embedded in his heel. “I am not entirely sure what miracle they performed – but I came out of that hospital more or less bounding like a new lamb.”

During the 2016 referendum, Johnson’s pro-Brexit campaign emblazoned a slogan on the side of its battle bus that pledged extra cash for the NHS if the country voted to leave the EU. It was attacked as misleading at the time and the argument has dogged Johnson ever since.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said the extra funding will be used for new intensive-care wards, childrens’ units and new mental health facilities along with essential maintenance.

“The extra money we’re putting into the NHS next year is more than the entire annual budget of NASA,” Hancock wrote, referring to the US space agency. “Over the next five years the NHS budget will rise to 148 billion pounds a year.”

The NHS announcement is likely to be seen as a further signal that Johnson is preparing for a potential election campaign.

First Published: Aug 04, 2019 10:03 IST