The Labour party has promised to invest an extra £2.5 billion to overhaul the primary care estate, as part of a £26 billion ‘rescue plan’ for the NHS.
In a speech earlier today, shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth announced an annual spending boost of 4.3% over the next four years under the plans.
If elected, the party would also recruit an extra 4,800 health visitors and school nurses, and invest £35 million a year in improving vaccination uptake.
In addition, it vowed to create 27 million more GP appointments by increasing the number of GP training places to 5,000.
This follows the Conservative party’s pledge to create 50 million more GP appointments a year by recruiting 6,000 new doctors to general practice by 2024/25.
Labour would also invest £1 billion in restoring the training bursary for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England follow its removal in 2017, and for continuing professional development, as revealed earlier this week.
The Labour party’s plan also includes:
- Free prescriptions;
- An average annual increase of 4.3% to the Department of Health and Social Care’s budget over the next four years;
- £1 billion to public health services, including £100m for addiction services, £100m for obesity services, £100m for public mental health services, £75m for sexual health services, £75m for 0-5 services and greater investment in smoking cessation services;
- An increase to NHS England’s resource budget to £154.9 billion in 2023-24 to improve waiting times, improve A&E performance and increase cancer survival rates;
- Investment in mental health support for NHS staff;
- Further investment in AI and digital within healthcare.
Mr Ashworth, said: ‘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 added: ‘We are announcing today the levels of investment our NHS needs to not only again provide the quality care our sick and elderly deserve but secures 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.
‘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.’
Responding, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing Dame Donna Kinnair said all political parties must follow Labour in committing at least £1 billion annually for nursing education.
She continued: ‘Staff shortages are the single biggest threat to patient care and there are tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in England right now. This funding must be forthcoming every year – not a one-off – to stand a chance of helping, and must be recognised as only the starting point of a package of investment in nurse education.
‘No matter how people voted in the EU referendum, nobody wants the NHS left open to a carve-up as a result of post-Brexit trade deal. Brexit chaos and rows about deals cannot become a distraction from solving the mounting nurse shortage at home.
‘All parties now need to commit to invest in nursing – there are nurses in every constituency and they need a Parliament and UK Government that supports them.’
It comes as Labour recently pledged £845m for child mental health services as part of its Healthy Young Minds plan.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has pledged £300m a year to increase general practice staff numbers by an extra 6,000.