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Parties' NHS spending pledges unlikely to be realised, financial institute concludes

Labour will have to increase its ‘tight’ spending pledges to implement its promises for the NHS, including increasing the GP workforce by 5,000, a respected financial institute has said.

A ‘manifesto analysis’ report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the real-terms NHS spending increase under the Conservatives will be double that of Labour by 2020.

However, it also found that the efficiency savings that the Conservative Party has promised are unlikely to be realised.

It comes in the same week that the Labour party has promised to have a GP in every A&E department next winter, and that a GP practice ‘in every town’ will have cancer diagnostic equipment.

Labour’s manifesto states that it ‘will invest £2.5 billion more than the Conservatives’.

But the IFS estimates that real-terms spending on the NHS would increase by £4.2 billion under Labour (a 3.7% increase on 2014/15), compared with £8 billion (7%) under the Conservatives.

The institute’s report states that Labour’s funding ‘would be, by historical standards, a very tight settlement for the NHS and it would not be surprising if a Labour government were to increase spending by more than this’.

The Conservative manifesto pledged general efficiency savings of £10 billion annually from 2017/18, rising to £15 billion in 2019/20.

However, the IFS report warned: ‘[A]t best these statements are aspirational. If efficiency savings were easy to identify and to deliver, then presumably they would either have been realised already or we could reasonably expect whoever forms the next government to ensure they are implemented.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted a photograph of the page in the report analysing Labour’s pledges, adding: ‘IFS says real-terms spending increase on the NHS under the Conservatives by 2020 will be double that under Labour.’

A spokesperson for the Labour party said: ‘If we win the election we will raise £2.5 billion a year, on top of the Tory spending plans we inherit, for an NHS Time to Care Fund. This will support an additional 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs…The Tories haven’t set out a penny of extra funding for the NHS because they have no idea where the money will come from. David Cameron said that approach would “wreck our NHS”.

‘The Tories’ plans for extreme cuts means no one will believe a word of their £8 billion pledge.’

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