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Election 2019: Labour tops Tory pledge on NHS spending

Pledge comes as campaigning for upcoming election gathers steam

NHS England

Labour has said it will raise the funding it will commit to NHS England in 2023-24 to £155bn – £5.5bn more per year than has been promised by the government.

The pledge comes as campaigning for the 12 December election gathers steam, and once again the NHS has emerged as a key battleground for the major parties, second only to Brexit.

According to the Labour front bench, this will be the biggest boost to health spending since Labour was last in power from 1997 to 2010.

The overall package amounts to a £26bn ‘rescue plan’ for the NHS between 2018-19 and 2023-24 that will be used to recruit thousands of staff, rebuild facilities and invest in modern equipment.

It would be paid for by higher taxes on companies and high income earners, says Labour, and result in reduced waiting times, improving cancer survival rates, skills training and £1.6bn to expand mental health counselling services.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth – who will present the plans at the Royal Society of Medicine in London today – is expected to say: “A decade of Tory underfunding and cuts has driven our NHS into year-round crisis. Over 15,000 beds have been cut, hospitals are crumbling and our NHS is chronically short of nurses and family doctors.”

He will continue: “This general election is about millions on waiting lists and hundreds of thousands who’ve waited on trolleys under the Tories – only Labour has a plan to rescue our NHS.”

The government has retorted that Labour policies such as the move to a four-day working week will actually reduce the amount of money available to the NHS if a Labour government is elected.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock 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 Labour's plans and it is patients who will pay the price for Corbyn's incompetence.”

Labour insists however that the shorter working week would be phased in over 10 years and would be offset by productivity gains.

The Conservatives have promised to increase the health budget by £33.9bn by 2023-24, including a £1.8bn pot for capital investments.

The Liberal Democrats’ health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said the Labour proposal “misses the point” as “they are ignoring the fact that Brexit is the biggest threat to the NHS – if Labour allow Brexit to happen, they cannot rescue our NHS”.

Party politicking aside, the NHS Confederation welcomed the pledge of additional cash. Chief executive Niall Dickson said: “Labour’s pledge to spend more on the NHS would represent a significant extra investment on top of that already pledged by the Conservatives which, if used wisely, would help to transform services and retain frontline staff.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th November 2019

From: Healthcare

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