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Chancellor Hammond backtracked on funding after ‘fury’ at NHS boss’s demands

Philip Hammond backtracked on plans to give the NHS more money than it eventually got in the budget after reacting with “fury” to its boss Simon Stevens’s public demand for an extra £4bn next year.

The chancellor viewed Stevens’s plea, in which he urged ministers to deliver on leave campaigners’ promise of £350m a week more for the NHS, as “very, very unhelpful” when he was facing so many pleas from other services for cash.

At the time of Stevens’s speech on 8 November, Hammond had already begun discussions with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his formal pre-budget request that the NHS in England be given a £3bn uplift for 2018-19.

But sources close to the talks say that both Hammond and Treasury officials felt that the NHS England chief executive’s move meant that the chancellor could not be seen to be acceding to what they saw as “overt public blackmail”.

In his speech Stevens warned that the number of people waiting for non-urgent surgery could soar to 5 million, and that improvements in cancer and mental health care might have to be abandoned, if NHS “underfunding” continued.

Read more in The Guardian.

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