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General election: Labour promises big boost to NHS spending

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The party has committed solve the social care The party has committed solve the social care crisis

Labour has promised to increase spending on the NHS by an average 4.3% a year, as part of their manifesto for the December election.

As part of the manifesto’s pledges, nurses and other staff will receive a 5% pay rise, which the party says is to make up for previous pay freezes. Additionally, the nursing bursary will be reinstated, and £1 billion will be pledged to nurse education.

‘The response to the 43,000 nursing vacancies in England must be bold and ambitious and we are pleased to see the Labour Party make a clear commitment to put safe staffing into law. Any changes to the responsibilities of the secretary of state for health and social care must include a new specific duty to ensure health and care services have the workforce they need to deliver safe and effective care. Patients and nurses alike deserve nothing less. Labour have met our election ask for all parties to put £1bn into nursing higher education in England and this must be forthcoming every year. This will help educate tens of thousands more nurses and ensure those who want to join the profession are no longer deterred by financial hurdles,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary.

‘Nursing staff will welcome the pledge to increase pay. NHS staff should be fairly rewarded for their commitment and professionalism. Increased pay would also help health and care services to recruit and retain the professionals they desperately need. The ambition to provide free personal care for over 65s is also a welcome one but we should not underestimate the scale of the task at hand in social care settings. If elected, the Labour Party will have to ensure it follows through on its pledge to invest in this sector’s workforce. At present, chronic and widespread vacancies mean they routinely work many hours of unpaid overtime to keep residents and clients safe. This puts nurses under impossible strain and puts residents at risk.’

Other policies include a ‘milkshake tax’ won top of the existing levy on sugary drinks, as well as a ban on fast-food restaurants near schools and stricter rules around the advertising of junk food and the levels of salt in food. Additionally, free annual NHS dental checkups will be available to all.

To tackle the social care crisis, the party would create a ‘National Care Service’, which Labour says would more than double the number of people receiving publicly funded care packages.

‘Labour’s funding plans provide a welcome recognition of the scale of the challenge facing the NHS. A 4.3% uplift to the health care budget would address growing demand and support plans for future transformation of the health service – a much needed boost following a decade of austerity. Plans to reverse £1bn of cuts to the public health grant are also welcome,’ said Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation.

‘The manifesto acknowledges the huge threat that workforce shortages present to patient care, but further detail is needed to show how these promises will translate into urgently-needed doctors and nurses on the ground. More cash is no good without more people.

‘While stopping privatisation has become a hot topic in this election, it risks being a distraction from far bigger issues facing the NHS and patients. With waiting lists continuing to grow, the NHS relies on non-NHS providers to deliver patient care and does not have the staff or beds to absorb these services. A major reorganisation is not what the NHS needs and would not be a good use of valuable time and resources.

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