Labour has come under pressure after splits emerged in the party’s position over whether the NHS would be subject to its four-day-week pledge.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth had rubbished his opponent’s claim that a policy of reducing the working week would apply to the NHS and that doctors and nurses would be “putting their feet up on Fridays”.
Ashworth told TalkRadio: “It’s nonsense. It’s trying to make out that if I’m elected on December 13 I’ll be like, ‘Right, you’re all out, you’re not working on Friday.’
“We are not imposing a four-day week on the NHS. What John McDonnell has said is that over the next 10 years let’s look at ways we can move to an economy where people are working less hours.
“If we can drive up productivity maybe we can get into a position where people can work less hours. He is going to set up a commission to explore that as a possibility.”
But shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted health workers would come under the 32-hour-week restrictions.
McDonnell said the policy “will apply to everybody”. While agreeing that the policy would be rolled out over a decade, heinsisted all workers should share the benefits of rising productivity.
“It’s not an overnight thing, but it is a realistic ambition,” he said. “We work to live, not live to work.”
The Conservatives argue that Labour plans for a four-day working week would render its NHS proposals unfeasible and more than cancel out the extra funding.
Labour’s 32 hour working week would cost the NHS £6.1 billion a year, Tories claim.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said:“Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for a four-day working week will cripple our economy and cost the NHS billions every year. That leaves a huge funding shortfall in Labour’s plans and it is patients who will pay the price for Corbyn’s incompetence.
“Corbyn’s Labour also have no policies to deal with the pressure that their plan for unlimited and uncontrolled immigration would put on our NHS.”
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