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Is Boris Johnson's NHS pledge as generous as it sounds?

I don't think it's any great surprise that the NHS is taking centre stage in the Queen's speech.

Behind Brexit it was the single most important issue during the election campaign and one which Boris Johnson claimed would continue to be a priority if he won.

He did indeed win and today is a sign the Prime Minister intends to send a strong message his government will focus on the service.

Let's be clear, there's nothing about the NHS we didn't know already in the Queen's speech, it is simply confirming what the Conservatives promised in their election manifesto. The most significant thing is the pledge to enshrine in law the Government's commitment to spend an £33.9 billion in cash each year by 2024. The NHS Long Term Plan Bill will include the amount pledged and will mean the Government is forced, by law, to increase funding. Of course the law can be changed, so in many ways it's symbolic, but symbolism does perhaps cut through to voters.

Boris Johnson's spending pledge is still much lower than the amount spent during the New Labour years. Credit: ITV News

The extra money was announced by Theresa May last year and amounts to 3.4% year-on-year increase in spending . But let's not get ahead of ourselves, it's more than the Coalition ever put in but it's not so generous in historical terms, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown averaged a 6% increase.

The new Bill will include the much trailed plan to fast-track visas for qualified health professionals, hospital car parking charges for those in greatest need will be scrapped and hospitals will be allowed to easier manufacture and trial innovative medicines.

I think it's important to say that very few, if any, are critical of the extra money going into the health service. Every College, as well as the health think tanks, accept more money is needed so any money is welcome and appreciated.

What many point out though is the lack of long term plan for increasing staffing levels. Over the last few months I've been to many hospitals and the overriding complaint from staff is that there simply isn't enough of them. They are crying out for more doctors, nurses, consultants and admin staff. They claim the degree to which demand has gone up is so great they simply can't cope.

One of the think tanks that advises the government, the King's Fund, said: "The government has promised more money for the NHS but a credible plan to increase the workforce is also urgently needed.

"Even then, it will take time to stabilise services and patients will unfortunately continue to wait longer to receive the care that they need."

Every College, as well as the health think tanks, accept more money is needed so any money is welcome and appreciated. Credit: ITV News

This speech also leaves open another big question: what about social care? During the election campaign Mr Johnson said he'd invest an extra £1 billion into social care to help stabilise it in the short term. He also said he'd seek cross party support to come up with a long term plan to fund social and pointedly said no one would have to sell their home to fund their home.

In interview today, it was telling that a government minister repeated their pledge for funding and cross party agreement but failed to commit to the pledge to guarantee no one would have to sell their home. With such little detail on social care and no commitment to publish a Green paper on it anytime soon is begs the question, if the health service is a priority why isn't social care too?