Labour pledges extra £37bn in NHS funding

Credit: This story was first seen on On Medica

Labour says it will spend an extra £37bn on the NHS in England over the next five years if it wins the forthcoming general election, On Medica reports.

The party says the investment, including £10bn on upgrading IT systems and repairing buildings, would be funded by tax increases for those earning more than £80,000-a-year and a rise in corporation tax.

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
  • Cancer patients to be seen within four weeks

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 the NHS.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said they were putting money in, but in return would expect “tougher targets” to be met. Labour would be outlining their taxation plans in their manifesto but it would mostly be funded by taxing those earning £80,000 and more.

“We’re asking those with broader shoulders to pay a little bit extra in in tax. And all that tax that’s earned from those tax changes for people earning £80,000 or more will go directly to the NHS. Every single penny piece of it will be given to improving patient care,” he told BBC Breakfast.

The Conservatives said they were putting an extra £10bn into the NHS. A spokesman dismissed Labour’s plans, saying, “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.”

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The Liberal Democrats say they would raise income tax by 1p to help fund the NHS and social care. The move has the backing of the former NHS England chief executive David Nicholson and other influential health figures. In a letter to The Observer on Sunday they wrote:

‘The human cost of this (NHS) crisis is already painfully clear. Waiting times are rising, there is particularly poor access for people with mental ill health and operations are being cancelled. More and more people are also unable to leave hospital following treatment because the follow-up care they need isn’t available. Ultimately, all of these factors lead to poorer outcomes.

‘For these reasons, we strongly welcome the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to raise income tax by 1p, to generate additional, ringfenced revenue for NHS and social care.

‘We also welcome their manifesto commitments to develop a long-term funding settlement for health and social care. Including bringing together funding into a dedicated, transparent NHS and care tax, establishing an independent body to advise on NHS and care budgets, and convening a cross-party convention on NHS and social care to work with patients, the public and staff, to deliver a sustainable funding settlement for NHS and care services.’