Hospital Dr News

Labour promises additional £37bn for NHS in England and improved IT systems

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.

While doctors’ representatives reacted positively to the news, the BMA said an extra £10bn a year was required to bring funding in line with the European average.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today 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
  • Cancer patients to be seen within four weeks.

Furthermore, 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.

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 “substantially” by raising income tax for the highest 5% of earners, as well as corporation tax increases, raising tax on private medical insurance and capital borrowing.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said they were putting money in, but in return would expect “tougher targets” to be met.

In response, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “The NHS is chronically understaffed and underfunded, so the promise of additional investment is desperately needed. It is important to remember, however, that the funding gap in the NHS will soon hit £30bn a year. This is having a devastating impact on patients who are facing unacceptably long delays in care, and staff who are working under impossible conditions in an NHS at breaking point.

“The NHS is currently bearing the brunt of cyber-attacks due to reliance on obsolete software – another example of the effect of cutting investment to the bone, and a serious wake up call for politicians to the risks of starving the NHS of necessary funding.

“Doctors are calling on the next government to, as a minimum, bring spending on the NHS in line with other European countries, which would see it rise by more than £10bn a year. This is will only go some way to plugging the enormous funding gap however, and if the NHS is to survive, it needs credible and sustainable plans to deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.”

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