The Labour Party has now unveiled its giant pre-election manifesto, promising an extra £2.5 billion a year for the National Health Service alongside a whole raft of measures it argues will improve the healthcare landscape.
While the £2.5 billion is a far cry from the extra £8 billion a year being called for by health leaders, to which the Conservatives have just committed, Labour has at least been able to explain how it plans to fund its increased stream of cash into the service.
The party says its Time to Care Fund - which will fund 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives - will be paid for by a Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2 million, a levy on tobacco firms, and by tackling tax avoidance.
It has also promised that patients will be able to see a GP appointment within 48 hours, or on the same day where necessary, and a Cancer Treatments Fund giving patients access to the latest drugs, surgery and radiotherapy. And by 2020, patients will wait no longer than one week for vital cancer tests.
Annulling the Health and Social Care Act
Labour has pledged to repeal the Government’s Health and Social Care Act, “scrapping the competition regime and restoring proper democratic accountability for the NHS,” and stop the drive towards privatisation to ensure services “are not destabilised by competition and fragmentation”. Any private profit from clinical services is to be capped.
On a more general note, the party said it plans to “bring together services for physical health, mental
health and social care into a single system built around the individual,” and that commissioning and budgets will be brought together at a local level to join up services.
But Alzheimer’s Research UK has pointed out that, while there are plenty of plans for the NHS, the manifesto fails to touch on how Labour will tackle dementia, nor does it include any commitments for research into the condition, which many believe constitutes the greatest challenge facing the healthcare system.
“Unless action is taken now the cost of dementia will reach £29 billion by the 2020 general election, yet research has the power to transform people’s lives,” noted the charity’s Matthew Norton.