It was a case of ‘show me the money’ when NHS England’s chief executive took to the stand at this year’s NHS Providers conference in Birmingham today (8 November) calling for Brexit funding pledge to be honoured. 

The head of the health service in England, together with Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, came out firing at the annual event, saying the NHS should receive the funding promised to it by the leave campaign during the European Union referendum last year.

Stevens made the funding pledge of £350m per week during his speech, targeting the central government for the extra money.

He warned if the promises made before the EU referendum to inject extra cash into the NHS is not honoured, voters will lose trust in politics.

While Stevens did not call for the exact £350m per week famously advertised on the side of Vote Leave’s campaign bus, he did demand the government ensure promises made during the campaign were kept.

“Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue: ‘You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can’t have one.’, ” Simons said.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt backed Stevens, acknowledging more funding will be needed for the NHS.

When it came to funding expectations as part of the 22 November budget, Hunt suggested this was an argument he still needed to “win” with chancellor Philip Hammond.

“The chancellor rightly points out that all NHS funding is dependent on the overall economic context… The overall economic context matters as does the way we use that money. The chancellor, and indeed the British public, need to know that every penny we spend, we spend wisely.”

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have completely backed the statements made by the two senior healthcare figures.

RCP president, professor Jane Dacre, said: “We support the calls today [8 Novemeber] from both Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens for increased NHS funding.”

“They have backed our position that the NHS is underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched. Simon Stevens has made clear the consequences of not getting the funds and workforce the NHS needs. Patients will suffer harm and that is avoidable and unacceptable.”

The Liberal Democrats have come out saying: “Printing lies on the side of a bus has done nothing to help secure a future for the NHS.”

Judith Jolly, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, said: “Under this government the NHS is moving from crisis to crisis.”

“Without an increase in funding, and proper care and attention given to the needs of staff, the National Health Service as we know it has a very uncertain future.

“Printing lies on the side of a bus has done nothing to help secure a future for the NHS,” she said.

She continued that “the Liberal Democrats are the only party who have laid out a clear, robust plan to safeguard our NHS for future generations by committing to put up income tax by a penny in the pound, to raise £6bn extra funding which is desperately needed.”

Nearly half (47% of 75) of Digital Health readers who took part in an online poll last week estimated that it would cost in the region of £20b to complete digitisation of the NHS.