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Labour calls for £500m winter bailout fund for the NHS

The NHS needs £500m to shore it up against looming winter pressures, Labour’s shadow health secretary will say today.

Jonathan Ashworth will tell the Labour Party Conference that the investment is required urgently to avoid ‘stumbling’ into another winter crisis.

With 266 operations cancelled every day, Labour is predicting more than 4.3 million patients will be on NHS treatment waiting lists by the end of winter.

Labour said the funding should be used to boost hospital capacity by increasing its workforce, and to facilitate discharge of hospital patients into social care.

But urgent care leaders pointed out that resourcing GP out of hours was equally important to reduce emergency services pressure.

Mr Ashworth will say: ‘Last year Theresa May stuck her head in the sand and refused to give the NHS the money it needed to keep services running properly.'

He will say this pushed staff and services to the brink and cannot be repeated.

He will add: ‘Labour is calling for a comprehensive package of emergency support, including a new £500m winter bailout fund, to urgently be put in place so that patients don’t suffer the same pain as last year all over again.

‘It is not acceptable for the Government to stumble into another NHS winter crisis – they’ve been well warned and need to take action now.'

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We’ve yet to hear of any concrete plans from the Government on exactly how they plan to stop a repeat of last year and any new injection of cash and resources will of course help ease pressure during the winter.

'But more importantly, it must tackle the political short-termism that sees the same issues crop up every year, by funding the NHS adequately year-round and by getting to grips with workforce planning.'

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘The NHS is at breaking point because, quite simply, investment isn’t keeping up with demand.’

However, commenting on Labour's demands, urgent care leads said GP out-of-hours services needed to be recognised for their role in 'soaking up' pressure before it reaches A&E.

Chair of out-of-hours cooperative body Urgent Health UK, Dr Simon Abrams, told Pulse: 'Out-of-hours services soak up many less serious urgent care problems that could easily swamp emergency departments.

He said GP and community services work together to keep frail patients out of hospital, adding: 'These services need the same level of winter support as other key services if they are to maintain their crucial contribution to urgent healthcare through the winter and all year round.’ 

The BMA has said that the winter crisis is now the 'year-round norm' and Pulse revealed that GPs are already being asked not to refer to one trust that declared a 'black alert'.

To address pressures in emergency care, the Government has invested £100m to put a GP in every A&E by next month - a plan that had previously featured in Labour's 2015 election manifesto.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Doctor McDoctor Face

    Headline should read: Anyone with a brain calls for £500million more.

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  • Half a percent of NHS funding? Big deal. Our "local health community" deficit is estimated at £30m so far this year and we are generally supposed to represent 1% of the national budget. Go figure. Drop in the ocean as long as we have an NHS controlled by short termist, self-serving politicians.

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  • I miss the good old days of rioting as an expressive art form of public discontent, it seems people are so busy trying to keep their heads above water they don't have time for it any more.... even the police are now getting really hacked off with their lot, which is interesting as previously it was a government policy to keep the police well looked after to keep them 'onside' so to speak, events around the coal miners strikes would support this view ......but now the establishment feels so secure that they can even start pooping on the boys in blue as well. Look at how successfully G4S has taken over what was once a public sector job, the prison service, as another example of how good private sector involvement is.... wouldn't it be nice if all the public sector united and revolted at the same time..... I've never known morale in the public sector to be so low... teachers, nurses, police, the forces.... mmmh why don't our different sectors talk to each other? We have so much in common .... perhaps we could have a suffragette style movement and burn our cardigans in protest?

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