The NHS will go bankrupt if it doesn’t reform, warns Labour

The NHS faces bankruptcy unless it is reformed, Wes Streeting will warn today.

The Shadow Health Secretary will argue that fundamental reform of the health service is needed if it is to survive another 75 years. He will say that reform will play a bigger part than investment in rebuilding the NHS. Labour plans for reform will secure the future and sustainability of the NHS, providing better service for patients and better value for taxpayers.

The IFS estimates that half of all public sector workers are set to be employed by the NHS by 2036. The proportion of total departmental spending going on health is 42% this year and is forecast to rise.

Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting will say:

“Be in no doubt about the scale of the challenge. In the longer term, the challenge of rising chronic disease, combined with our ageing society, threatens to bankrupt the NHS. 

“Pouring ever-increasing amounts of money into a system that isn’t working is wasteful in every sense.

“A waste of money we don’t have. A waste of time that is running out. A waste of potential, because the NHS has so much going for it.”

Pledging that Labour’s reform agenda will provide a better service for patients while securing better value for taxpayers’ money, Streeting will promise to “turn the NHS on its head”:

“When I look at leading health systems across the world, the fundamental problem with the NHS becomes obvious: we have an NHS that gets to people too late. 

“Labour’s reform agenda will turn the NHS on its head. From a service focused on hospitals to one providing more care in the community, analogue to digital, sickness to prevention.

“A neighbourhood health service as much as a National Health Service, pioneering cutting edge treatment and technology, preventing ill-health, not just treating it. Better for patients, less expensive for taxpayers.

“Achieving our mission will take time, investment, and reform. Reform is even more important than investment.”

He will also set out Labour’s plans to tackle the immediate waiting lists crisis facing the NHS. Today, 7.7 million patients are waiting for treatment, 390,000 of whom have been waiting for more than a year. 1.6 million patients are waiting for tests and scans, with the 6 week waiting times target not hit since 2017. Labour has pledged to:

  • Provide 2 million more operations, scans, and appointments a year on evenings and weekends, with £1.1 billion paid to staff in overtime 
  • Double the number of NHS scanners, buying AI-scanners which work 35% faster, to diagnose patients earlier
  • Deliver 700,000 urgent dentistry appointments, recruit more dentist to areas most in need, introduce supervised toothbrushing for 3-5 year-olds, and reform of the NHS dental contract.

The plans will cost £1.6 billion in total and be paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows people living and working in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.

On Labour’s plan to cut waiting lists, Streeting will say:

“A Labour government will take immediate action to cut waiting lists.

“We’ll provide an extra £1.1bn to help the NHS beat the backlog, with extra clinics at evenings and weekends – providing two million more appointments each year.

“Faster treatment for patients. Extra pay for staff. The first step to cut waiting lists and beat the Tory backlog.

“Paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status, because patients need treatment more than the wealthiest need a tax break.”