General election 2017: Labour pledges £37bn for the NHS by 2022


NHS wardImage copyright
PA

Labour says it will spend an extra £37bn on the NHS in England over the next five years if it wins power.

The investment, including £10bn on upgrading IT systems and repairing buildings, would be funded by tax increases and capital borrowing.

Jeremy Corbyn blamed the NHS cyber attack on “Tory cuts”, promising a service “fit for the modern day”.

But the Tories said Labour’s “nonsensical” economic plans would mean less money for the NHS.

The NHS is facing one of its toughest-ever financial challenges as it struggles with a growing and ageing population, and there have been warnings about a looming funding gap in years to come.

‘Bed blocking’

Mr Corbyn is expected to set out his party’s £37bn “new deal” for the NHS in England – to be spent over the course of the next Parliament – at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference.

Labour says the extra money would:

  • Take one million people off waiting lists by guaranteeing treatment within 18 weeks
  • Set a new one-hour A&E target for the most urgent cases and guarantee no more than a four-hour wait for other patients
  • Set a new target to tackle “bed blocking” by patients waiting for care arrangements before they can be released from hospital
  • Deliver England’s five-year cancer plan

Labour said a “big chunk” of the £10bn infrastructure investment would be spent on upgrading the health service’s computers, to ensure no repeat of the cyber-attack that has hit dozens of NHS trusts.

It pointed to a National Audit Office report saying that in February the Department of Health had transferred £950m of its £4.6bn capital projects budget to meet day-to-day revenue costs.

The party said its funding pledges would be paid for by raising income tax for the highest 5% of earners, corporation tax increases, raising tax on private medical insurance and capital borrowing.

Speaking at the RCN conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn will claim the NHS will be “unrecognisable” after another five years of Conservative government, saying: “Only Labour will put the NHS back on its feet.”

‘Top-down targets’

The Conservatives said they were putting an extra £10bn into the NHS, and dismissed Labour’s plans.

A Tory spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn can’t deliver any of this because his nonsensical economic policies would damage our economy and mean less money for the NHS, not more.

“Just look at Wales where Labour cut funding for the NHS.”

The health service is devolved to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments, and any new cash for England would need to be reflected in their funding settlements from Westminster.

The Lib Dems recently said they would raise income tax to help fund the NHS and social care.

The party’s health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “You cannot solve the crisis in our NHS and social care services by simply imposing more top-down targets on staff and plucking numbers out of thin air.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a fully costed plan to deliver £6bn more per year for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax.”

Mr Farron is also expected to address the Royal College of Nursing conference on Monday.

Janet Davies, the college’s chief executive and general secretary, urged party leaders to “put patients before politics by committing to the hard cash and staff the NHS needs”.

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