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Monday, 15 May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn vows NHS 'for the many' with £37 billion package of health reforms

Written by David Hughes

Jeremy Corbyn is promising an extra £37 billion for the NHS with measures aimed at improving A&E performance and taking one million patients off waiting lists.

The Labour leader will blame the Tories for leaving the NHS vulnerable to the ransomware cyberattack and warn that another five years of Conservative rule would result in the health service being "broken up and plundered" by private firms.

Labour's plans involve a target to tackle bed blocking and a new guarantee that patients with the most urgent needs are seen within an hour at A&E departments.

The measures, being set out by Mr Corbyn and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, will see Labour commit to meeting the existing 18-week waiting list target and the four-hour A&E goal.

A new £500 million fund will help ensure the NHS avoids a winter crisis and 2.5 million cancer patients will be helped by delivering in full the cancer strategy for England.

To tackle bed blocking, Labour will develop a new target for delayed discharge of patients, ensuring 80% of patients are released from hospital with an appropriate care package within a week of being deemed ready to go home.

Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing Conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn will say: "This is about having a health service for the many.

"In the past seven years the Tories have driven our National Health Service into crisis.

"A&E departments are struggling to cope.

"Waiting lists are soaring and, and as we saw last week, Tory cuts have exposed patient services to cyberattack.

"Imagine what would happen to the NHS if the Conservatives under Theresa May were to have another five years in power.

"It would be unrecognisable: a national health service in name, cut back, broken up and plundered by private corporations.

"Only Labour will put the NHS back on its feet.

"Today we are pledging an extra £37 billion over the course of the next Parliament, including £10 billion of capital funding to make sure that NHS buildings and IT systems are fit for the modern day.

"That investment will mean the NHS will be able to guarantee treatment within 18 weeks and ensure those needing A&E services are seen within four hours.

"You can't trust the Tories with our NHS. Labour founded the NHS and we will restore it to good health."

By resourcing hospitals to deliver the 18-week referral to treatment target, Labour plans to bring waiting lists back down to 2010 levels, taking one million people off the waiting list by 2022.

Funding for Labour's New Deal For NHS Patients will be met from tax rises for the top 5% of earners, with additional money from increases to corporation tax and a higher-rate insurance premium tax on private medical insurance.

Some money will come from Labour's "national transformation fund" for capital expenditure and the previously-announced plan to lift the 1% cap on pay rises will also be funded from corporation tax.

Labour said in total the plans represent a cash boost of £37 billion for the English NHS across the course of the Parliament.

The waiting list for NHS treatments stood at 3.7 million at March 2017, compared to 2.4 million at March 2010.

By resourcing hospitals to deliver the 18-week referral to treatment target, Labour plans to bring waiting lists back down to 2010 levels, taking one million people off the waiting list by 2022.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Jeremy Corbyn can't deliver any of this because his nonsensical economic policies would damage our economy and mean less money for the NHS, not more.

"Just look at Wales where Labour cut funding for the NHS.

"We are putting an extra £10 billion into the NHS and with strong and stable leadership from Theresa May we will be able to secure the strong economy our NHS needs."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "You cannot solve the crisis in our NHS and social care services by simply imposing more top-down targets on staff and plucking numbers out of thin air.

"The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a fully costed plan to deliver £6 billion more per year for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax.

"This is a plan endorsed by senior health experts including the former head of NHS England David Nicholson.

"We will be honest with the public that giving the NHS and social care the funding they need will mean us all chipping in a little more."

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that raising taxes for those earning more than £80,000 would raise up to £4.5 billion, all of which would go towards the NHS.

Further funding would come from changes to corporation tax, as well as £10 billion from Labour's capital investment fund.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.