In Brief

Doctors call on Tories to pledge £350m a week for NHS

Open letter to Conservative Party argues Brexit campaign promise must be upheld

A group of doctors, public health experts and academics has urged the Tories to include a commitment to spend £350m a week on the NHS in their manifesto.

The figure was notoriously branded on the side of a Vote Leave campaign bus in the run-up to last year's EU referendum.

In an open letter organised by Vote Leave Watch and Healthier In campaign groups, the experts argue that for the mandate of the referendum to be adhered to, the Conservatives "must promise in their manifesto to spend £350m extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union".

It says: "As health professionals with long experience in the National Health Service and medical research, we know that the NHS faces a critical funding situation.

"The Government bases its mandate for leaving the EU on the vote in the referendum. Yet the iconic symbol of the campaign to leave was the claim that there would be £350m extra every week for the NHS.

"We are absolutely clear that [the Conservatives] must promise in their manifesto to spend £350m extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union.

"Such an injection of funding would have a transformational impact on our National Health Service. Failing to do so would reveal the hollowness of their pledge, and let down everyone who works in, cares about and depends on our NHS."

It has been signed by 40 individuals, including leading medics such as Dr Kailash Chand, a former deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, reports The Independent.

Labour candidate Chuka Umunna, chairman of Vote Leave Watch, said failure to deliver the promise would show the Conservatives to be "a cynical shower of hard Brexiteers".

David Lammy, Labour candidate for Tottenham, also said he was "looking forward" to the Brexit promise being included in the manifesto.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, speaking on the BBC this month, however, said he "can't deliver" the extra funds.

Pressed by Andrew Marr on why the Conservatives were not promising the extra £350m pledged during the referendum, Hunt said they had already pumped in an extra £6.5bn "over the last few years" and that voters wanted a "credible promise" from the party.

"We are not going to promise stuff that we can’t deliver," he added.

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