Wednesday 28 March 2018 / 9:49 AM Health / Jonathan Ashworth

Labour says patients deserve more than a nod and a wink from Theresa May as it unveils plans to support general practice

Labour is today (Wednesday 28 March) demanding an urgent long term investment plan for the NHS saying patients deserve better than a nod and a wink from Theresa May.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, speaking to the Pulse Conference in London this afternoon will outline Labour’s investment plan for the NHS, and offer a new commitment to increase the share of NHS funding that goes to primary care including a new £500 million Primary Care Infrastructure Investment Fund.

Jonathan Ashworth MP will say:

“When we see waiting lists around four million, when we see ambulances backed up outside overcrowded hospitals, when we see operations cancelled including cancer operations too, when we see elderly confused vulnerable patients stranded on trolleys in the corridors of bursting wards, then I’m afraid a nod and wink from the Prime Minister isn’t good enough.

“We need a long term investment plan for our NHS and care sector urgently. Patients simply should not be expected to wait any longer.”

He will highlight Labour’s long term plan including:

• £5 billion extra for the NHS this year
• £1 billion extra for social care this year with an extra £8 billion over a Parliament
• £1 billion investment in NHS staffing to bring back the training bursary, support fair pay and invest in Career Professional Development of NHS staff
• Protect and enhance public health budgets and mental health budgets including a new Child Health Fund of £500 million to improve the health and wellbeing of every child
• £10 billion infrastructure fund to invest in the new facilities, beds, equipment and technology of the future

On investment, Jonathan Ashworth will say:

“These are the levels of investment that the patient who has had a cancer operation cancelled or the elderly patient waiting hours on a trolley in a hospital corridor needs now. The test for Theresa May is whether she genuinely delivers the significant long term investment package Labour is offering or whether it will turn out yet again to be more thin Tory gruel.”

Labour will also highlight the “deep and severe pressures” facing GPs and primary care, with evidence of the Government’s failure to boost GP and primary care staff numbers:

• The number of full time equivalent GPs fell by 720 between September 2015 and December 2017, despite a Government target to hire 5,000 more.
• The number of general practice nurses has fallen by 343 over the same period
• The most deprived areas currently tend to have the fewest GPs and nurses per 100,000 people.

And Jonathan Ashworth will set out Labour’s plans to put GPs at the heart of building more personalised care to respond to the demands of an ageing population with widening health inequalities, after a series of high level reports showed life expectancy getting worse under this Government. He will pledge to increase the proportion of funding going to primary care alongside a new £500 million Primary Care Infrastructure Investment Fund.