Labour promises 5,000 GP training posts and premises boost in £26bn 'NHS rescue plan'

The Labour party has promised a £26bn real-terms increase in NHS funding by 2023/24 - including £2.5bn to improve primary care premises and a 40% increase in GP training places to 5,000 per year.

Shadow health and social care secretary Jon Ashworth (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Shadow health and social care secretary Jon Ashworth (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

An 'NHS rescue plan' published by the party ahead of the 12 December general election promises funding for the health service over and above the £20bn real-terms funding increase promised by the Conservatives through the NHS long-term plan.

Under Labour plans, the overall DHSC budget would increase to £178bn by 2023/24, with the NHS England resource budget rising to £154.9bn.

The party says this would mean 'a real-terms increase of £26bn for day-to-day NHS spending from 2018/19 to 2023/24' - the period that the NHS long-term plan funding pledge relates to.

Free prescriptions

Labour would scrap prescription charges in England - a move that would bring the country in line with the rest of the UK - as well as hospital car parking fees.

It would invest £2.5bn 'to overhaul the NHS primary care estate', along with a £15bn increase in NHS capital spending over the next parliament to 'rebuild NHS hospitals and community facilities and clear the maintenance backlog'.

The plans promise to increase GP training places from the current 3,500 a year to 5,000 - outstripping the increase to 4,000 places promised by the Conservatives.

Labour says it would create 27m more GP appointments - around half the number promised by the Tories in their recent NHS proposals to deliver 6,000 more GPs and 50m extra appointments by 2024/25.

NHS funding

The Labour proposals would also create a £2bn 'strategic mental health infrastructure fund' - abolishing out-of-area placements - offer £1.5bn to fund an increase in MRI and CT scanning equipment to the OECD average, and pay for extra investment in 'digital and AI'.

It also plans to spend £1bn to restore the training bursary for nurses and fund CPD 'to help recruit 24,000 extra nurses as well as extra midwives and allied health professionals'.

Responding to the proposals, BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'It is promising to see that Labour has recognised the need for increased and sustained investment in the NHS. Our health service is clearly struggling and as we highlighted in our Manifesto for health, whoever forms the next government must put the NHS back on a sustainable footing.

'With our recent analysis revealing that the NHS is on track for its worst winter yet, we need to see resources delivered to the frontline as Labour has rightly highlighted that trolley waits and poor A&E performance must be addressed.'

Workforce crisis

The BMA chair said pressure on NHS services 'have been heightened by the workforce crisis within the NHS' - and warned that while plans to boost GP training places were welcome, it was 'disappointing that there is no mention of pensions reform'.

He added: 'We need a future government that will once and for all scrap the punitive pension taxation which is driving senior doctors out of the NHS.'

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth is expected to say: 'A decade of Tory underfunding and cuts has driven our NHS into year-round crisis. Over 15,000 beds have been cut, hospitals are crumbling and our NHS is chronically short of nurses and family doctors.

'With experts warning this winter is set to be one of the worst the truth is our NHS is crying out for a financial rescue plan to deliver real change for patients.

'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. We’ll invest more to prevent people becoming ill in the first place and we’ll give mental health and wellbeing a greater priority than ever before.'

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