Boris Johnson unveils ‘union boost’ £180m NHS funding for Scotland

Scotland is to receive a £180 million “union boost” as part of a major NHS funding drive unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

SNP ministers are now facing calls from opponents to commit the additional cash to the “struggling” health service in Scotland.

Mr Johnson said yesterday he is “determined to deliver” the promises of the Brexit referendum campaign as he pledged an extra £1.8 billion to the NHS this year. He has received continued criticism for the battle bus claim that leaving the EU would allow the UK to take back control of £350 million a week, with some boosting the NHS.

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Although NHS cash applies to England, the devolution settlement means Scotland receives a “share” amounting to around £180 million to be spent as Holyrood ministers see fit.

Scottish Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This is another welcome £180 million union boost and the SNP must commit to spending it on Scotland’s struggling NHS.

“Once again this shows that the SNP cries of austerity are nonsense – the Scottish budget is increasing.

“This latest cash boost for Scots will only go some way to undoing the damage caused by this independence-obsessed SNP government.

“The SNP has racked up a staggering £1 billion black hole in Scottish finances while they focus on their endless separatist schemes. Yet again it is completely clear that responsibility for the ever-increasing hospital waiting times, lack of teachers and dreadful roads all lie at the door of the SNP.”

The Scottish Government has previously committed to passing on Barnett consequentials arising from NHS funding in England to the health and social care budget in Scotland.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “While any additional funding is welcome, recent UK government decisions have short-changed our health service, with Scotland losing out on more than £100 million that it should have received. However, the Scottish Government is absolutely committed to ensuring the NHS remains a public service and has acted to protect it with record high investment.”

The money unveiled by Mr Johnson is on top of Theresa May’s £33.9 billion annual increase on the health service by 2023/24.

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Visiting a Lincolnshire hospital yesterday, the Prime Minister announced 20 hospitals are set to share £850 million of funding to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment to improve patient care and save lives.

There will also be a £1 billion hike in NHS capital spending, to fund both existing upgrade programmes and tackle urgent infrastructure projects.

“The NHS is always there for us – free at the point of use for everyone in the country,” Mr Johnson said.

“With our doctors and nurses working tirelessly day-in, day-out, this treasured institution truly showcases the very best of Britain.

“That’s why I made it my immediate task to make sure frontline services have the funding they need, to make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff, and above all, of patients.

“It’s time to face up to this challenge and make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs.”

Labour said the extra funding “falls significantly short” of the amount needed to reverse Tory cuts.

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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “This announcement – even if it’s ever delivered – falls significantly short of what’s needed to provide quality, safe care to patients after years of Tory cuts.”

The Nuffield Trust health think-tank said the committed sum will “only be a fraction” of what is needed to upgrade 20 hospitals, as Mr Johnson pledged on his first day as prime minister.