Tax businesses to fund improved GP access, says Labour shadow health minister

Businesses should be told to pay more tax to ensure their employees have proper access to their GP, a shadow health minister has said.

Diane Abbott: Labour shadow health secretary debating end of NHS privatisation (Photo: Gruffydd Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo)
Diane Abbott: Labour shadow health secretary debating end of NHS privatisation (Photo: Gruffydd Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo)

Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders MP said that in his view businesses should be made to pay more tax to properly fund the NHS and social care systems.

Speaking at a fringe event at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Madders said employers should be told it was for their own benefit that the NHS is properly funded.

Funding was ‘at the root’ of the health service’s problems, said Mr Madders, and while he could not make spending promises, shadow chancellor John McDonnell would ‘have to get the chequebook out’.

NHS funding

‘It is a political decision, how much you fund the health service,' he added.

While it was true the NHS was receiving more funding than ever, said the Labour frontbencher, it was not enough. Taking NHS inflation into account funding had increased just 0.2% over six years, he said. ‘You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that you can only do that for so long before things become untenable.’

‘Someone is going to have to stand up and say "more will need to be paid".'

‘My personal view - not Labour party policy - is we ought to be looking at corporation tax and businesses paying a little bit more.’

He added: ‘We also have to make the argument to employers that actually their taxes pay to keep their staff healthy and in work, and a it’s drain on them in the long run if they’ve got people unable to work because they are unable to have operations or are unable to see their GP and actually it benefits them as well.’

NHS privatisation

Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott told the same fringe event that a future Labour government would reverse marketisation and privatisation of the health service.

Ms Abbott said the party was debating what a pledge made by Jeremy Corbyn in his leadership campaign to ‘renationalise’ the NHS should mean in practice. But she said, there was ‘a commitment to reverse the move towards privatisation and marketisation and the fragmentation of the NHS which has gone alongside that.’

A properly unified and national health service, said Ms Abbott, would end disputes between commissioners and local authorities over responsibility for funding treatments and services.

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