Whilst the Tories and their Lib Dem allies want this to be an election solely about Brexit; Labour is fighting the campaign on a raft of policies designed to deal with the consequences of the last 9 years of Tory cuts and the longer term problems of communities whose services have been decimated by Thatcherism and austerity.
Nowhere is this more vital than in the NHS. The Tories have always opposed the NHS but the passage of the Health and Social Care Act, with the support of the Lib Dem’s, has driven the NHS into crisis as the chart shows.
As a result of these cuts some trusts have already fallen into bankruptcy.
Many of the services the NHS provides have already been contracted out to vultures like Virgin Health Care, who see ill health simply as a profit opportunity.
Meanwhile those elements of the NHS still in public ownership are being systematically starved of the resources they need. For example:
- 78,981 operations were cancelled last year
- There are currently 100,000 staff vacancies
- The NHS is 10,000 doctors short of complement
- 43,000 nurses are needed
- Buildings and land are being sold off to cover running costs
Labour in Government will change this entirely with a £26 billion rescue. In particular it will:
- bring back into public ownership the elements of the NHS which have already been privatised,
- re-introduce nursing bursaries
- Increasing the total Department of Health and Social Care budget to £178bn in 2023–24 – an average annual increase of 4.3%
- Increasing the NHS England resource budget to £154.9 billion in 2023–24 to restore constitutional standards on waiting times and access, including ensuring 95 per cent of patients are treated within 18 weeks, improve A&E performance and radically improve cancer survival rates;
- This will mean a real-terms increase of £26bn for day-to-day NHS spending from 2018–19 to 2023–24 – the period over which the Conservatives have promised £20bn
- Guarantee a greater priority for mental health and wellbeing than ever before with an extra £1.6 billion NHS spending per year to fund counselling services for schools, community mental health hubs for young people, invest in community services for severe mental illness and ensure high quality liaison and 24/7 crisis care for people living with poor mental health;
- Free prescriptions and car parking, the costs of which are not included in these figures.
- Protecting the NHS from Boris Johnson’s sell-out Brexit deal with Donald Trump which risks funnelling £500 million per week out of the NHS to big drugs companies.
This Labour guarantee of £26 billion in the period to 2023–24 is £6 billion more than the Tories are promising. The difference is more than just £6 billion. Unlike the Tories, who have reneged on one promise after another before and during this election, Labour will deliver on this promise and has shown where it will raise the money from.
The Tories, on the other hand, will not deliver the health care resources needed but will instead hand the NHS over to the big American health insurance companies who are so spectacularly failing to deliver health care for vast numbers of ordinary Americans.
Alongside education and housing, rebuilding the NHS is a dire necessity. It can only be done by returning a Labour Government on 12 December.