Tuesday 12 November 2019 10:30 pm

Labour pledges an extra £40bn to NHS

Labour will outspend the Tories on health by promising an extra £40bn to the NHS if it wins next month’s General Election.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will unveil Labour’s health policy tomorrow, promising to increase the health and social care budget to £178bn in 2023-24 – an average annual increase of 4.3 per cent.

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The increase equates to a £26bn real terms rise in funding and will be paid for by “taxing the richest in society”, according to McDonnell.

The policy, dubbed the “NHS rescue plan, involves recruiting thousands of new staff, upgrading NHS buildings and buying new medical technology.

It will include £15bn spending on NHS hospitals and community facilities, £2bn on mental health infrastructure and £1.5bn on buying more MRI and CT scanners. 

Tomorrow McDonnell is expected to say: “The world-class health service we all need and depend on needs proper funding.

“Labour’s policies to tax the richest in society and invest for the future through our Social Transformation Fund mean we will be able to improve millions of lives.”

Ashworth is expected to add: “We are announcing today the levels of investment our NHS needs to not only again provide the quality care our sick and elderly deserve but secures the NHS for the future as well.”

Labour’s announcement trumps the Tories who have previously promised £34bn extra to the NHS.

The Conservatives hit out at Labour’s plans, saying they were unfeasible taken together with Labour’s policy to implement a four-day working week.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said Labour’s plan to shorten the working week would “cripple the economy”, cut tax revenues by £6.1bn and lead to a cut in the NHS budget.

“Labour have let the cat out of the bag – they won’t increase the NHS budget, they will cut it,” he said.

“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.”

Read more: Conservatives and Labour battle over spending pledges

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has branded Labour’s health plans as unsustainable and said both parties should reform the NHS instead of spending “endless billions of pounds”.

“The structure of the NHS is fundamentally outdated, and no amount of money is going to get the health system to function and operate at the level patients deserve,” IEA director general Mark Littlewood said.