Labour should make case for higher taxes to fund NHS says shadow minister

Labour should make a case to the public for increasing taxes to support health and social care, the party's shadow health spokesman in the Lords has said.

Lord Philip Hunt: 'I hope we do face up to these challenges'
Lord Philip Hunt: 'I hope we do face up to these challenges'

Lord Philip Hunt told a Respublica fringe meeting at the party's annual conference in Brighton, that he believes the party should face up to the challenges of growing demand on health and social care and put the option before the public.

Demographic change will leave governments with limited options to either increase taxation, reprioritise public spending, accept a poor service or introduce some kind of co-payment system, said Lord Hunt.

'I can't say, given a major debate, what Labour would do. What I can say is that I do believe, from what we've heard from our leader today, that we do believe we should use taxes in a way to support these kinds of services', he said.

Lord Hunt, who holds the finance brief for Labour's shadow health team, added: 'I am expressing a personal view here. I hope we do face up to these challenges.And we are talking about a new politics, and I think the new politics means that we actually have to put this before the public. And in the end we have to ask them the question, and let's do that.

'Let's think back to the 1940s and the state of the British economy after the second world war and let's think back to what the Attlee government did.'

Earlier in the conference shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander told party delegates that the £22bn of efficiency savings agreed by NHS England and the government were 'fanciful' and would put patient safety at risk.

'The question of the finances that are available to provide health and care services in this country is my number one priority,' Ms Alexander told a Health and Care Forum fringe meeting on Monday

'We've got a situation where the present government have said that they will find £22bn of efficiency savings over the next five years. Personally, I think that is fanciful,' she added. 'I don't know how they are going to achieve that level of efficiency savings without compromising patient care.'

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