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Doubts raised over UKIP health pledges

The UK Independence Party’s recent pledges for NHS spending may not be properly costed, a report has found.

UKIP kicked off their election campaign on Tuesday by announcing an additional £3bn of annual investment in the NHS, which the party says will provide 20,000 new nurses, 3,000 midwives and 8,000 GPs.

Yet Channel 4 News’s FactCheck blog has calculated that the cost of providing the GPs alone will be around £4bn, according to recent BMA figures that price training at £500,000 per doctor.

Even if some of the 8,000 GPs were fully-qualified returners (the cost of whose retraining would also be covered by a UKIP Government), the new intake’s salaries alone would come to a minimum of £240m in the first year of their practice. The blog also costs training 20,000 new nurses at £1.4bn, assuming that each new nurse costs £70,000 to train.

Health pledges made on Tuesday by UKIP also included at least seven entirely uncosted proposals, which are presumably to be covered by the £3bn investment, including:

  • extended opening hours for GPs
  • a pilot scheme to put GPs in accident and emergency departments
  • scrapping tuition fees for medical students on a means-tested basis
  • replacing the Care Quality Commission with ‘county health boards’
  • increased funding for mental health services
  • increased mental health support for pregnant women and new mothers
  • a new licensing system for NHS managers

UKIP’s spokesman for health policy, Louise Bours MEP, who is a former actress and singer who once appeared in a 1999 episode of GP drama series, Peak Practice, declined to comment.