Laboris to unveil a “rescue plan” for the NHS in England with an extra £ 26 bn of funding a year paid for by higher taxes on companies and the wealthiest in society, as the party puts the health service at the heart of its election offer to voters.
The party’s pledge would give the health service £ 5.5bn more a year by 2023 – 24 than the £ 20. 5bn theConservativeshave promised and represent the biggest boost to health spending since Labor was last in power between 1997 and 2010.
It puts pressure on Boris Johnson to increase the money he is committing to the NHS, which he has made one of his three “people’s priority” andsought to make a Tory vote- winner.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will say that “proper funding” is needed to maintain a world-class health service as he proposes a 4.3% annual rise in funding.
Labor says the sums it is pledging would end the lengthening delays faced by patients for A&E care, cancer treatment and planned operations, tackle the NHS’s worsening staffing crisis, restore bursaries for student nurses, improve mental healthcare, let hospitals buy scores of new CT and MRI scanners and pay for a new generation of hospitals, GP surgeries and mental health facilities.
Healththinktanks and organizations representing NHS staff welcomed Labor’s plans because they would end a decade of much smaller budget increases – of just over 1% a year until last April – since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 compared with the 3.7% it has averaged, under all governments since its creation in 1948.
The Nuffield Trust thinktank’s chief executive, Nigel Edwards, said it would mean theNHScould “breathe a sigh of relief”. The Health Foundation’s director of research and economics, Anita Charlesworth, said it would mean “health spending rising at a faster rate than any previous government over the NHS’s history, apart from the Blair / Brown years, when health spending grew by 6% a year ”.
Richard Murray, the chief executive of the King’s Fund, said: “Both of the major parties are committing significant funding to the NHS. On the basis of these numbers, Labor is planning a bigger boost to the NHS England budget than the money injected by the Conservative government.
“By virtue of being a more comprehensive policy covering a wider range of budgets such as capital and public health, the Labor policy is also overall more generous than anything we have yet seen from the other parties.”
Unveiling the plans at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, McDonnell will say: “Labor’s’s policies to tax the richest in society and invest for the future through our social transformation fund mean we will be able to improve millions of lives. And ending privatisation means that money can be spent on healthcare rather than dividends for Boris Johnson’s friends in the private healthcare industry. ”
Labor said the plans would give £ 6bn more to the NHS than the Tories’ pledge of £ 20 bn on day-to-day spending on the health service. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would get the same percentage increases under the Barnett formula.
Labor’s package also includes NHS capital expenditure rising to the international average, £ 1bn a year for training and educationand £ 1bn more to fund a major expansion of public health services.
The Tories have been trying to compete with Labor on health spending during the election, with Johnson visiting hospitals regularly, even though the NHS is usually seen as an issue that benefits Labor.
The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, who will appear alongside McDonnell, said: “Boris Johnson is using hospitals for PR stunts but refusing to apologize to elderly patients languishing on trolleys. We’ve actually got a credible rescue plan for the NHS to deal with growing waiting lists and provide the best care that patients deserve. With experts warning this winter is set to be one of the worst the truth is our NHS is crying out for a financial rescue plan to deliver real change for patients.
“We are announcing today the levels of investment our NHS needs to not only provide the quality care our sick and elderly deserve but to secure the NHS for the future as well. We’ll invest more to prevent people becoming ill in the first place and we’ll give mental health and wellbeing a greater priority than ever before. ”
As part of the plan, Labor would increase the Department of Health and Social Care’s budget by an average of 4.3% annually as well as the overall budget for NHS England by the same rate. That would take NHS England’s budget to £ 154. 9bn by 2023 – 24 and the DHSC’s to £ 178 BN.
The party said its aim was to restore standards on waiting times and access, including ensuring 95 % of patients awaiting non-urgent treatment are treated within 18 weeks, improve A&E performance and radically improve cancer survival rates.
On top of this, the party is promising free prescriptions and car parking, as well as increasing NHS capital budgets by £ 15 bn over a parliament to rebuild dilapidated hospitals.
On mental health, Labor said it wanted a new £ 2bn mental health fund that would end unsafe dormitory wards and to roll out a fleet of crisis ambulances. Another £ 2.5bn would overhaul the primary care estate so GPs can deliver better local care in their communities.
The party’s training plan for NHS staff would involve £ 1bn in restoring the training bursary for nurses and expanding GP training places to create millions more appointments with family doctors.
The Tories responded by claiming that Labour’s plan was “a major error” which would cost the NHS £ 6.1bn because of its aspiration to cut the working week from five to four days.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for a four-day working week will cripple our economy and cost the NHS billions every year. That leaves a huge funding shortfall in Labor’s’s plans and it is patients who will pay the price. ”
Luciana Berger, the Liberal Democrats’ health, social care and wellbeing spokeswoman, said: “Labor’s health announcement today completely misses the point. They are ignoring the fact that Brexit is the biggest threat to the NHS; if Labor allow Brexit to happen, they cannot rescue our NHS. ”
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