Will £500 million make any difference to the NHS at winter?

Published: 29th Sep 2017

“Will the £500 million bailout for the NHS, which Labour are calling for, make any difference..?”

BBC Question Time audience member, 28 September 2017

“I'm not sure that it's necessarily just - whatever money is promised by the Labour Party is necessarily going to be enough”.

Karen Bradley, 28 September 2017

It’s true that £500 million is “not a large number in proportion” to the £124 billion of total NHS spending in England, as David Dimbleby said. It’s about enough to run the English NHS for a day and a half.

The bigger question, also debated in the programme, is whether the NHS is getting enough money overall. We covered that here.

Government after government has considered £500 million plenty of money to boast about giving the NHS to help deal with the extra pressures of winter.

In the winter 2015, the Conservative government included “£400 million in resilience money” for winter in the NHS England budget.

In 2013, the Coalition government announced “A&E departments will benefit from an additional £500 million over the next 2 years to ensure they are fully prepared for winter.”

Right back in 1997, the Labour government assigned £300 million in additional expenditure on the NHS for the winter.

So every government for the past 20 years has argued that £500m is enough to make a difference when it comes to winter pressures on the NHS, but in the bigger argument about how much the NHS needs to survive and thrive in the future, it’s not a lot of money.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


Full Fact and international partners win Google AI Impact Challenge

We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.