A prominent campaign group committed to the exit of Britain from the European Union has been critical of the NHS policy of David Cameron.
The Brexit campaign group backed by the justice secretary, Michael Gove, is trying to persuade senior NHS staff to sign a letter which indicates that the government has essentially starved the health service of funding.
This could be seen as a major political divide, considering that Gove remains part of the government that he is criticising.
A draft version of the letter indicates that “David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt must accept responsibility for this – they have starved the NHS of necessary funding for too long.”
However, James McGrory, a spokesman for Britain Stronger in Europe, criticised the group for what he viewed as political opportunism, and questioned both their motives and trustworthiness.
“You cannot trust Vote Leave with the NHS. They are people who have spent their political lives championing policies which would destroy the NHS as we know it. It’s rank opportunism for them to now don the clothes of protectors of the NHS.”
Nonetheless, the decision to directly criticise the Conservative government has been widely condemned by the Conservative party hierarchy, because Vote Leave features Gove, the London mayor, Boris Johnson, and cabinet ministers Priti Patel and John Whittingdale among senior committee members.
As the letter continues it outlines the perilous state of the NHS in 2016, and asserts that critical action must be taken in the foreseeable future.
“But as it slips into financial crisis the NHS itself needs some urgent attention. The NHS is being asked to make huge cuts at a time of rising demand. Patients are having to wait longer for treatment, hospital deficits are increasing and doctors are on strike after being told they must take a pay cut,” it says, claiming that Brexit would hand billions back to the service.”
Despite criticism of the group, a spokesman on behalf of Vote Leave stated that exiting the European Union is ultimately having an extremely negative impact on the health service, and that leaving the ‘superstate’ would be in Britain’s best interests, as well as the NHS.
“If we Vote Leave we can stop handing over £350m a week to the EU and can instead spend our money on our priorities like the NHS.”
A senior Department of Health source defended the policy of the government, pointing to the £10 billion of funding that has already been earmarked for the NHS, while criticising senior Tory MPs for getting involved.
“Every Conservative MP stood on a manifesto to deliver this package, o we expect every Conservative MP to have absolutely nothing to do with this letter.”
It seems that many people involved in the political process consider that the debate over Europe and the future of the health service are intrinsically linked.