Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer dodged questions on Monday about how his party plans to finance its far-reaching reforms to England’s health service, as he outlined his plans to build a “future-fit” NHS.
Starmer warned that the NHS would not survive “five more years of Tory rule”, arguing that a Labor administration would “regain” the health service by meeting long-missed targets within five years for how long people waited for ambulances and treatment. hospital and halve the gap in healthy life expectancy between different regions.
The Labor leader, speaking in Braintree, Essex, promised to outline a full breakdown of the funding for his NHS plan “before the election”. He said he would make decisions based “on a full appreciation” of the reality of the challenges facing the health service and the state of public finances.
Repeatedly questioned during the news conference about whether a Labor government would increase NHS spending and the source of any additional funding, Starmer said money was “important, but it’s not just about money.”
“What I am putting forward today is that change and reform play a very important role,” he said. Suggesting that science and innovation could transform healthcare, he added: “Technology can be the revolution, technology can do what money can’t.”
He argued that it was “wrong” to suggest that Labor had not made clear where the funds would come from, noting that the commitment to increase training places for doctors and nurses would be financed by removing “non-dom” tax status: the mechanism to through which foreign residents can avoid paying taxes on their income abroad. Labor officials believe the move could raise more than £3bn.
Improving the NHS is one of the party’s five goals. key promises to the electorate before the elections, which are expected next year. Other promises include making Britain’s streets safe and ensuring the UK has the fastest growth of any G7 country.
Starmer’s announcement came as recent polls have given Labor a double-digit lead following a series of local election results for the ruling Conservative party.
According YouGov43 percent of those recently polled would back Labor compared with 25 percent who would back the Tories.
Starmer suggested that Labor would focus much more on out-of-hospital care as part of a push to prevent disease or identify it at an earlier, more treatable stage. Additional GPs would be trained and more people would be seen in the community rather than in hospital when it was often “too late” to ensure a good outcome, she suggested.
Outlining an expansive vision of the elements needed to keep people fit, Starmer said, “We need to stop thinking of health as a disease.” Giving workers better labor rights, providing breakfast clubs for elementary school children and decent homes, and regulating the water industry were “all health policies,” she argued.
Starmer also vowed to “stand up to social media companies that promote dangerous misogyny in our children” and set a tipping point for ads for vaping, junk food and sugary snacks to ensure they “can’t advertise to our children,” he said. .
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health organisations, praised Labor’s “constructive” view but added: “[W]We need to see details about what a funding boost would look like.”
He welcomed Starmer’s commitment to moving more care out of the hospital to the community, but added that “we need to understand how Labor would achieve, and fund, such a move” and more details are needed on the party’s plans for care. social.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think tank, said the plans were “welcome but extremely ambitious”. Delivering them would require “time, staff and more long-term funding than Labor has so far promised”, he warned.