Labour Party health policy: How we will build an NHS fit for the future

Labour Party health policy: How we will build an NHS fit for the future

Labour has saved the NHS before, and the next Labour government will do so again. With Labour, the NHS will always be publicly owned and publicly funded. But our ambition goes beyond returning the NHS to what it was. 

Our mission is to build an NHS fit for the future. Investment alone won’t be enough; it must go hand in hand with fundamental reform.

The Tories have broken the NHS

The NHS waiting list is now at almost eight million. Ambulances don’t come when you need them. Dentistry is in crisis, with tooth decay the number one cause of hospital admissions among children aged between five and nine. Waiting times for cancer patients have got worse every year since the Tories came to power in 2010. Last year, more than 102,000 patients (1-in-3) waited longer than two months to start cancer treatment and the waiting list for community mental health care in England hit 1.2 million.

Labour will transform the NHS

As a first step, Labour will cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments every week.

This is part of Labour’s plan to build an NHS fit for the future. Labour will:

  • Cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments every week
  • Double the number of cancer scanners
  • A new Dentistry Rescue Plan
  • 8,500 additional mental health staff
  • Return of the family doctor

All of Labour’s policies are fully-funded. Labour will not increase income tax, national insurance or VAT.


How Labour will build an NHS fit for the future

Read the Labour Manifesto 2024

Keir Starmer talks to NHS staff while leaning on a workstation in a hospital.

As a first step, in England Labour will deliver an extra two million NHS operations, scans, and appointments every year; that is 40,000 more appointments every week during evenings and weekends, paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes.

We will do this by incentivising staff to carry out additional appointments out of hours.

Labour will pool resources across neighbouring hospitals to introduce shared waiting lists to allow patients to be treated quicker. 

Recognising the urgent need to bring down waiting lists, Labour will also use spare capacity in the independent sector to ensure patients are diagnosed and treated more quickly.

Labour will reset relations with NHS staff. Too many patients have seen their treatment affected by strikes. We will move away from the Tories’ failed approach.

How Labour will cut the number of lives lost to cancer

Too many cancer deaths could have been prevented with earlier diagnosis. The NHS has fewer diagnostic scanners per person than other countries, with many ageing machines operating for long after they should. State of the art scanners with embedded AI are faster and more effective at finding smaller tumours, saving lives. 

Labour will introduce a new ‘Fit For the Future’ fund to double the number of CT and MRI scanners, allowing the NHS to catch cancer and other conditions earlier, saving lives.

How Labour will deliver more dentist appointments

Labour will deliver a Dentistry Rescue Plan to provide 700,000 extra appointments each year – funded by closing tax loopholes, including for non-doms. 

We will introduce a targeted recruitment fund to get more dentists into the communities that need them most. And we will reform the NHS dentistry contract so that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can get one. We will also introduce a supervised tooth-brushing scheme for 3- to 5-year-olds, targeting the areas of highest need.

Labour will reform the NHS to ensure we give mental health the same attention and focus as physical health.

The NHS struggles to keep up with the challenges of mental health. Waiting lists for those referred for support are too long and thousands of lives are lost to suicide.

That is why Labour will recruit 8,500 additional mental health staff, specially trained to support people at risk – paid for by closing tax loopholes.

We will also ensure every young person has access to a specialist mental health professional at school, and set up Young Futures hubs in every community, offering open access mental health services for young people – funded by applying VAT and business rates to private schools.

How Labour will ensure people can see a GP

Excellent primary care is the key to earlier diagnosis, but too often it is impossible to get an appointment, so Labour will reform the system. 

We will train thousands more GPs, guarantee a face-to-face appointment for all those who want one and deliver a modern appointment booking system to end the 8am scramble. 

We will bring back the family doctor by cutting red tape for GPs and incentivising them to see the same patient, so ongoing or complex conditions are dealt with effectively.

Labour will also take the pressure off GP surgeries, by giving pharmacists prescribing rights where clinically appropriate, and allowing other professionals, such as opticians, to make direct referrals to specialist services or tests, as well as expanding self-referral routes where appropriate.

We will also trial Neighbourhood Health Centres, with existing services such as family doctors, district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, palliative care, and mental health specialists under one roof.