Patients will ‘pay the price’ as Health Secretary accused of ‘pulling a fast one’ on Covid funding
Patients will “pay the price” for the Health Secretary’s “failed negotiations” with the Treasury to cover ongoing Covid costs, Labour has warned.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told MPs it appeared as if Sajid Javid was “pulling a fast one” with patients, amid concerns that services could be cut to cover the Covid budget.
But Mr Javid said the “living with Covid” plan is “properly funded” and the costs will be picked up by the Department of Health and Social Care.
In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan included scaling back free universal testing from April 1 and it will instead be focused on the most vulnerable people.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Streeting (pictured) said: “The Secretary of State asked the Chancellor for £5 billion to cover essential ongoing Covid costs and he came away with nothing.
“So where will the cuts now fall in the NHS budget?”
Mr Javid replied: “We must all learn to live with Covid. The Government has been very clear about that, we set out a very detailed plan, and as infections fall, cases fall and hospitalisation rates are falling with Covid, that means we can now have this type of plan.
“It is a properly funded plan that focuses on vaccines, treatments, targeted testing, and builds in resilience should there be future variants of concern.
“It is right that this plan is funded by the department, because it’s our number one health priority.”
But Mr Streeting countered: “One minute the Secretary of State is asking for £5 billion from the Treasury and the next minute he’s found the money within the department.
“Either he was trying to pull a fast one on the Treasury because he had the money he needed, or actually he hasn’t got the money he wanted and therefore the cuts are going to fall within existing budgets.”
Mr Streeting highlighted a newspaper report which suggested Mr Javid had warned investment in social care could be delayed, there could be fewer elective surgeries and also cuts to the hospital building programme.
The Labour frontbencher added: “So having, I think, not tried to pull a fast one on the Chancellor, is it now the case he’s pulling a fast one with patients? And isn’t it really the case it’s the patients who are going to pay the price for his failed negotiations?”
Mr Javid replied: “He shouldn’t believe everything he reads in the press, you’d think he’d know that by now.
“When it comes to funding of our living with Covid plan, it’s right that it is the number one priority and continues to be the number one priority of my department to keep this virus at bay and that it is funded by the department.”
Mr Javid went on to criticise Labour for voting against legislation which provided extra money to the NHS.
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