Labour launches NHS election pledges

One hundred days before the UK election the Labour party has launched its pledge on the NHS, promising 36,000 more staff, to revoke privatisation laws and provide a further 5,000 social care workers to ease the pressures on home visits.

A poll published in The Independent today puts health as the key issue among voters, above the economy, following worries over the crisis in hospital accident and emergency departments in recent months. All of the major parties have committed what they believe is enough money to keep the NHS running through the next Parliament, although Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has said £8 billion is needed to pay for additional resources up to 2020.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that he will maintain the NHS ring-fence and bolster it with a further £2.5 billion a year, and today has outlined the party’s ’10-year plan’ for the NHS, with six specific promises. These include ensuring that there are increased numbers of social care workers, plus 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, and 3,000 more midwives, with the aim of integrating care between home and hospital, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and tests for cancer within one week, plus offering preventative measures to avoid ill health and give greater support for mental health services.

The plan further commits the party to closer scrutiny of hospitals, with robust restrictions on those that are making private patients more of a priority, and the promise to repeal privatisation laws.

The Conservatives’ campaign is focusing more on the economy, but they have committed to ring-fence and ‘protect’ the NHS budget, while the Liberal Democrats have promised to fund the extra £8 billion NHS leaders say is required over the next five years.

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