Boris's multi-billion plan bid to clear NHS backlog not blocked by Sunak, Javid insists

7 February 2022, 05:48 | Updated: 7 February 2022, 08:21

Sajid Javid denies the Treasury blocked NHS backlog spending
Sajid Javid denies the Treasury blocked NHS backlog spending. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Sajid Javid has hit back at suggestions Rishi Sunak's Treasury has blocked his multi-billion pound plan to help clear the massive NHS backlog.

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The health secretary denied the money was being withheld and described his department's relationship with the exchequer as "rock solid".

A last minute intervention in Whitehall is said to have delayed NHS England's National Recovery Plan, which was due to be unveiled by Boris Johnson and Mr Javid today.

Mr Javid will appear on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast from 7.50am – watch it live on the Global Player.

The package was supposed to help ease the massive queue of patients who are awaiting treatment, with a record six million people stuck on waiting lists after the pandemic wreaked havoc on the health service.

But The Telegraph said the Treasury has blocked the recovery scheme's announcement, refusing to sign off on it over concerns about value for money after treatment targets slipped during the wave of the Omicron Covid variant.

However, speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Javid said: "We've got an excellent relationship with the Treasury, I have to tell you.

Sajid Javid denies reports Treasury has blocked NHS Recovery Plan

"Just from my own experience of having been Chancellor, a good solid working relationship with the Treasury for any department is really crucial to good delivery.

"And in terms of support that my department has received from the Treasury in terms of health and social care, it has been rock solid. Look at the investment we're making, how we're doing it, so I've got good partners there, I've got good partners across Government."

Asked again by Nick if money had been blocked, Mr Javid insisted: "No, no. The plans that we set out in terms of financing are completely unchanged in terms of what was set out in the spending review, the extra billions going into NHS and social care and we're working on the plan, how we can make the best use of that."

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The Government, which has already committed more than £5bn to help the NHS deal with coronavirus, said it wants value for taxpayers' money and "any delay is a working through of final details".

Just under £6bn was planned to be invested over three years to help with elective treatments.

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A service that will allow patients to use the NHS website to see waiting time information is due to go live despite the delay to the recovery package, it was announced.

The My Planned Care platform will be usable by patients waiting for care, family members, carers and medical professionals.

The reported rift with the Treasury comes at a time when Chancellor Rishi Sunak's ambitions come under the spotlight.

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He is viewed as one of the frontrunners to succeed the embattled Prime Minister should he be forced from office over the partygate saga, which is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

He has not ruled himself out from a potential leadership bid should his boss leave Downing Street.

Matthew Taylor, the CEO of NHS Confederation, an organisation that represents groups providing NHS services, took aim at Mr Sunak on Twitter.

"Increasingly getting the sense that Johnson now faces the same (but more intense and short term) challenge [Tony Blair] had in his third term.

"Namely that [the Treasury] is loath to agree to any No 10 plans involving money as the [Chancellor] sees these as opportunistic and wasted on a dying administration…."

Boris Johnson has tried to plough on as Prime Minister despite growing Tory backbench dissent with the partygate affair and a slew of resignations among his senior aides.

Among the five to have walked in recent days are Munira Mirza, his head of policy who has been working for him for more than a decade.

She said she quit after his false remarks last week that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute the paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Dan Rosenfield, the chief of staff, Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson's Principal Private Secretary, and Jack Doyle, the director of communications, have all confirmed they their departures.

Elena Narozanski, another aide, has also gone.

But it is not believed enough Tories MPs have submitted letters of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady, which would trigger a leadership ballot.