NHS has enormous responsibility over additional funding, chief executive says


NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has said the health service has "enormous responsibility to be wise stewards" of the additional cash it is to receive from taxpayers.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the public will have to pay "a bit more" in tax in order to fund the extra £394 million a week going to the NHS in England in 2023/24.

Mr Stevens, who has been in the top role since 2014, said it was "right that the health service steps up and ensures that we are being very disciplined in using that resource" to improve patient care.

In an interview with political magazine The House, he said: "Everybody in the health service recognises that not only is it right to fund the health service properly but in doing so we are making a call on taxpayers' resources.

"So, we've got an enormous responsibility to be wise stewards of this additional investment."

He said the cash boost was a "meaningful improvement on the constrained funding that we've been having to operate under because the economy tanked in 2008".

Mr Stevens, who has previously clashed with Mrs May on NHS funding, added: "If I didn't think this was a workable funding settlement, then, yes, I have in the past felt a sort of obligation to speak out.

"But, equally, when you get a workable funding improvement, which this clearly is, then I am very happy to be clear about that too."

He also spoke on the topic of children's mental health, describing a "major ramp up" of services as needing to be a major concern of the long-term NHS plan.

Mr Stevens said the use of marijuana in medical treatments and cannabis legalisation were two separate debates.

"We should have an entirely evidence-based look at whether there are compounds derived from cannabis that are effective for certain health conditions," he said.

"There is some evidence to suggest that that's true: conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea and so on.

"But we've got well-established processes for the medical experts reviewing that and then, if necessary, seeking approval for medications that would be prescribable.

"That is a separate debate than sending a signal to young people that cannabis is safe when for around 10% of people it would become addictive and the psychiatrists are very clear that there is a causal effect for some young people with psychosis."