NHS chief takes high-risk punt by pointing out May and Hammond’s miserliness
Simon Stevens’s warning to Theresa May and Philip Hammond of the risks they are running by “underfunding our health services by £20bn-£30bn a year” was spectacular for being so public, pointed and premeditated. It was a plea, a protest, a challenge and an attempt at persuasion all rolled into one, though longer on direct threat than his usual diplomatic subtlety.
The NHS England chief executive’s speech at the NHS Providers conference may yield the extra £4bn for the health service next year that he said it needed. Or, depending on its reception in Downing Street and the Treasury, it could lead to the end of his three-and-a-half-year stint as the man trusted – until now – by ministers to run and save the NHS.