- Created: Wednesday, 08 June 2016 14:17
- Written by Hannah Caller and Robert Clough
In a significant retreat, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to talks with the junior doctors on their proposed new contract. Since they started their strike action, the doctors have received widespread public support. They have refused to back down in the face of government intransigence and lies, and instead have linked their struggle to the need to take action against the government’s deliberate running down of the NHS and the associated privatisation of its services.
Starting with the 2010 ConDem coalition government, the NHS has faced an unprecedented squeeze on its finances. This will continue until 2020/21, by which time NHS spending as a proportion of GDP will have fallen from 8.8% (2009) to 6.6%. GDP is forecast to grow in real terms by around 15.2% between 2014/15 and 2020/21, but NHS spending will grow by only 5.2%. The annual real-term increase in NHS spending between 2009/2010 and 2020/21 will be a mere 0.9%; it needs to be 4.5% to keep pace with rising need and the costs of advances in medical technology. This represents the difference between government lies that it is protecting NHS funding and a reality of insufficient staffing at every level and collapsing services.