Labour make election pledge to invest additional £26 billion in NHS
The Labour party’s latest election pledge is to invest an extra £26 billion a year into an NHS “rescue plan” which will be funded by higher taxes on companies and the wealthy.
Labour says that its plan would outspend the Conservatives, by providing the NHS with £5.5 billion more per year by 2023-24 than prime minister Boris Johnson’s promise of £20.5 billion investment.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is set to propose a 4.3 per cent rise in annual funding for the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care during a speech at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.
In this speech, he is expected to say: “Labour’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. Ending privatisation means that money can be spent on healthcare rather than dividends for Boris Johnson’s friends in the private healthcare industry.”
McDonnell will outline that Labour’s "proper funding" promise is to deliver an end to delays and lengthy waiting times for urgent medical care, cancer treatment and planned operations to increase survival rates, along with tackling the NHS staffing crisis, improving mental health services and updating dilapidated facilities with new equipment.
Also among the plans are further measures to make NHS placements more accessible to student nurses by restoring bursaries, as well as introducing free prescriptions and hospital car parking.
McDonnell’s plans to increase funding will eclipse the NHS budget increases over the last decade, which came at just over one per cent a year starting from 2010, when the Conservatives came to power, until last April.
Richard Murray, who heads the King’s Fund, said: “Both of the major parties are committing significant funding to the NHS. On the basis of these numbers, Labour 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 Labour policy is also overall more generous than anything we have yet seen from the other parties.”
Shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, said: “Boris Johnson is using hospitals for PR stunts but refusing to apologise 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.”
Matt Hancock, the incumbent health secretary, labelled the plans a “major error” which could cost the NHS £6.1 billion, when aligned with Labour’s plans to reduce the working week to four days.
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.”
Meanwhile, the health, social care and wellbeing spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Luciana Berger has said that Labour’s pledges “ignore” that Brexit is the “biggest threat to the NHS”, adding that if they allow the UK to leave the EU, they “cannot rescue” the health service.