Labour pledge more cash for NHS, higher staff pay and lifetime cap for social care
Labour has pledged extra money for the NHS, better access to GPs and higher pay for health service staff as it unveiled its manifesto.
A “lifetime cap” on the amount people have to pay for social care will be introduced, while the NHS budget will rise by 4.3% on average per year under a Labour government.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, spending under Labour would increase by an additional £3.2 billion in real terms over four years (£3.5 billion in cash terms), reaching £143.5 billion in 2023/24.
It says spending in 2023/24 would be 2.3% higher under Labour’s plans than those currently set out by the Government.
Other measures in today’s manifesto, some of which have been previously announced, include free personal care for those aged over 65, “with the ambition to extend this provision to all working-age adults” who need it.
Carers can also expect an increase in the weekly carer’s allowance, while those receiving social care at home can expect longer visits from staff as 15-minute visits end.
Free annual dental check-ups and free prescriptions in England will be introduced, according to the manifesto, together with an end to all hospital car park charges for patients, staff and visitors.
Patients can expect more services closer to home and improved access to GPs, with a promised expansion in GP training places to provide resources for 27 million more appointments each year.
Labour also pledged to “stabilise” overstretched A&E departments and improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates through earlier diagnosis and better screening.
Bed cuts across NHS hospitals would also be halted – something many health leaders have been calling for.
Delivering the manifesto, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared to “sell out” the NHS for a US trade deal.
He said: “Labour will never, ever use our National Health Service as a bargaining chip in trade talks. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS.”
In response, Labour supporters stood up and began chanting: “Not for sale”.
The manifesto sets out “urgent” plans to “end and reverse privatisation in the NHS”, including ending the requirement on health authorities to put services out to competitive tender.
Labour also said it “will restore public sector pay to at least pre-financial crisis levels (in real terms), by delivering year-on-year above-inflation pay rises, starting with a 5% increase, to reward and retain the people who do so much for us all.”
Other promised investments across the NHS include artificial intelligence (AI), cyber technology and “state-of-the-art medical equipment, including more MRI and CT scanners”.
On mental health, an extra £1.6 billion a year is promised, with more investment to end out-of-area placements and improved eating disorders services.
Almost 3,500 qualified counsellors will also be recruited to guarantee every child access to a school counsellor.
Labour pledged to invest more than £1 billion in public health and recruit 4,500 more health visitors and school nurses.
It also aims to tackle childhood obesity, extend the sugar tax to milk-based drinks such as milkshakes and ban fast-food restaurants near schools.
More stringent rules can also be expected around the advertising of junk food to children and levels of salt in food.
Meanwhile, alcoholic drinks will be labelled with clear health warnings and a minimum price per unit of alcohol will be reviewed.
Labour also said it would establish a generic drugs company to stop patients being “held to ransom” when pharmaceutical firms charge too much for life-saving drugs.
Measures will also be introduced to make the NHS greener, including more efficient heating and insulation systems and a greater reliance on renewable energy and electric vehicles.
A £150 billion Social Transformation Fund will also replace, upgrade and expand schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses.
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