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8 November 2017, 10:28
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has warned five million people will be left waiting for treatment if the Government does not increase health service funding in the Budget.
Mr Stevens said failure to increase funding would add one million people to the waiting list by 2021.
Speaking at the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham, Mr Stevens said: "NHS England's assessment of the funding position is that the Budget for next year falls well short of what is needed to look after patients and their families at their time of greatest need.
"On current budget, the NHS will not be able to do everything that is asked of it.
"The NHS waiting list will grow to five million people by 2021. That is one million more people, equivalent to one in 10 of us, the highest number ever."
Mr Stevens said the NHS would not be able to deliver on mental health or cancer treatment targets, and that some elective treatments may have to be "retrenched or rationed".
He said he was speaking out ahead of the Budget because the public had "a right to know the consequences" of the decisions the Chancellor will make.
In a blunt, strikingly political message, he also called on the Government to make good on the Vote Leave promise to divert more money to the NHS.
Vote Leave's bus carried the slogan: "We send the EU £350 million a week... let's fund our NHS instead."
Mr Stevens said: "The NHS wasn't on the ballot paper, but it was on the battle bus. Vote Leave for a better funded health service - £350m a week.
"Rather than our criticising these clear Brexit funding commitments to NHS patients - promises entered into by Cabinet ministers and by MPs - the public want to see them honoured.
"By the end of the NHS' next financial year - March 2019 - the United Kingdom will have left the European Union.
"Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue: 'You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can't have one.'"
The £350m figure was hugely controversial during the referendum campaign.
It was based on Vote Leave's calculation of the amount of money Britain sends to Brussels each week, but the UK Statistical Authority challenged the figure and prominent Brexiteers, including International Trade Secretary Sir Liam Fox and then-UKIP leader Nigel Farage, distanced themselves from the pledge following victory.
Boris Johnson revived it in September, writing that "it would be a fine thing, as a lot of us has have said, if a lot of that (£350m) went on the NHS".