Health and social care election tracker
How are health and care issues shaping the political landscape as we head towards the 2017 general election?
Jonathan Ashworth outlines Labour's NHS plans to the HSJ
In an interview with the Health Service Journal, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth gives more details about Labour’s pledge to review sustainability and transformation plans. He says the review would be completed by the end of the year, would involve clinicians and the public and ‘won’t stop change happening’. He also discloses that the new regulator tasked with undertaking the review – NHS Excellence – would bring together NHS Improvement with the NHS Leadership Academy.
Questioned about Labour’s NHS funding commitment, Ashworth confirms that an additional £7.4 billion would be provided in the first year of the parliament. This level of spending would be maintained thereafter but could increase depending on the recommendations of a new ‘NHS Office of Sustainability’ which would provide ‘absolute transparency’ in how much funding the NHS needs.
Pressed on the affordability of his party’s NHS plans, he insists that the £37 billion extra funding Labour have pledged over the parliament is enough to deliver all their manifesto commitments including cutting waiting lists, introducing safe staffing ratios, ending the pay cap for NHS staff and reintroducing nurse bursaries.
Parties’ health spokespeople make pitches on Today programme
Each of the main parties’ health spokespeople are given 30 seconds to set out their plans for the NHS on Radio 4’s Today programme.
The Conservatives’ Jeremy Hunt argues that investment in public services depends on a strong economy and that Theresa May is best placed to negotiate a good Brexit deal that would allow the government to increase NHS spending.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth pledges a front-loaded spending increase, a pause in sustainability and transformation plans to allow public engagement, and to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
Norman Lamb says the Lib Dems would increase health spending by £6 billion a year funded by a 1 per cent rise in income tax; subsequently they would introduce a dedicated health and care tax informed by the recommendations of a new Office for Budget Responsibility-style organisation for health.
Labour promise extra £37 billion for NHS
Labour pledge to spend an extra £37 billion on the NHS over the course of the next parliament. This will include £10 billion in capital funding.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the Today programme the ‘substantial amount of the money [needed to fund this] will come from increasing the tax take from those earning about £80,000’.
It says the extra funding would guarantee people would be referred to treatment in hospital within 18 weeks and not spend any longer than four hours waiting in A&E.
The proposals would also see a new target to tackle delays in discharging people from hospitals, a one-hour guarantee for the most urgent patients in A&E, and a more ambitious target for cancer referrals.
Labour manifesto leaked
A draft copy of the Labour manifesto is leaked to the media.
The draft includes proposals to spend more than £6 billion extra per year on the NHS, and £8 billion extra for social care over the whole parliament.
Other policies include reinstating the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the NHS and setting up a new body to oversee and scrutinise health spending. It also proposes guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens working in health and care services.
The leaked version is not yet finalised, as it was due to be agreed at today’s meeting of Labour’s national executive committee and the Shadow Cabinet.
Labour plan pre-watershed junk food advertising ban
Labour set out proposals that they say will halve the childhood obesity rate within 10 years.
Most headlines focus on Labour’s proposal to ban television advertising of unhealthy foods before 9pm. This sort of advertising is already not allowed from children’s programmes, but Labour’s proposal would extend this to other programmes not specifically aimed at children.
This follows a Health Committee report in March that concluded: ‘The advertising regulators have not sufficiently addressed the scale of the challenge. They could – and should – go further.’
Labour would end NHS parking charges
Labour promise to end NHS parking charges, saying they will fund the pledge by increasing the rate of Insurance Premium Tax for private health care insurance products.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn describes parking charges as ‘a tax on serious illness’, suggesting they place ‘an unfair and unnecessary burden on families, patients and NHS staff’.
It is not the first time Labour have targeted hospital parking. In his 2009 conference speech, then Health Secretary Andy Burnham committed to phasing out parking charges for inpatients, though the policy was not included in Labour’s 2010 manifesto.
Ashworth calls for moratorium on STPs
Labour call for a moratorium on the NHS’s sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), as well a full review of proposals to change hospital services.
Under the proposal, a new body called NHS Excellence would lead the review, with patients and local communities closely involved.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth says: ‘Threats of hospitals being closed, A&E services moved miles up the road, and children’s wards being shut have caused widespread concern and confusion.’
Labour pledge NHS pay increases
Labour promise pay increases for NHS staff, with a proposal to end the 1 per cent cap on salary increases.
In a speech to Unison’s conference, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also commits to making safe-staffing levels a legal requirement and to reintroducing bursaries for health-related degrees.