Hospital Dr News

Labour calls for £500m from the government to avoid winter crisis in the NHS

Labour has called for the government to commit a £500m “winter bailout fund” for the NHS over the coming months.

The BMA has supported the call saying additional funding is desperately required to avoid a crisis.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “We’ve yet to hear of any concrete plans from the government on exactly how they plan to stop a repeat of last year and any new injection of cash and resources will of course help ease pressure during the winter.

The Labour Party claims that 10,000 people a day will wait at least four hours for A&E treatment this winter.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, will say at the Labour Party Conference that NHS patients suffered their worst winter on record.

“Last winter Theresa May stuck her head in the sand and refused to give the NHS the money it needed to keep services running properly. This decision pushed NHS staff beyond their limits and caused misery for patients in every part of the country.

“It can’t be allowed to happen again.”

Ashworth said it was clear the NHS needed more funding long-term, repeating labour’s manifesto pledge of an extra £7bn for the health service, which he said “substantially goes further than the Conservatives”.

However, he said it would not be right to immediately commit to the 4% annual rise as seen under the last Labour government.

Nagpaul said: “While the government needs to urgently outline plans to support the NHS going into the winter period, the NHS also needs politicians of all parties to end the pattern of short-termism that plagues NHS policymaking. Long term investment and workforce planning are urgently needed; especially as recent figures show that three in four medical specialties are facing a shortage of doctors.

“If spending on the NHS matched that of other leading EU countries, then patients would see £15 billion extra investment in the English NHS within five years. This additional funding could be used to provide tens of thousands of extra hospital beds, recruit thousands more GPs and reverse the cuts made to the public health budget rather than slashing budgets further.

“The NHS is at breaking point because, quite simply, investment isn’t keeping up with demand. We need the government to urgently look at the long-term funding, capacity and recruitment issues facing the health system as a whole if we are to get to grips with the pressures the NHS faces year in, year out.”

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