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GP funding to be boosted under Labour, reveals leaked draft manifesto

A draft of the Labour Party’s manifesto says it will increase funding to general practice, after raising billions of extra NHS funding from the country’s top earners.

The document, widely leaked to the media this morning and subsequently confirmed as genuine by Labour, says the party will ‘commit to over £6 billion extra in annual funding through increasing income tax for the highest 5% of earners’ and ‘by increasing tax on private medical insurance’.

A portion of the money will also come from ‘free[ing] up resources by halving the fees paid to management consultants’, the document adds.

On general practice, it says the party will ‘work towards a new model of community care which takes into account not only primary care but social care and mental health as well’ and, crucially, it pledges to ‘increase funding to GP services to ensure patients can access the care they need’.

It also says it will ‘support doctors to deliver the best care possible by investing in training, education and development of doctors throughout their careers’.

It further pledges to ‘scrap the NHS pay cap, put pay decisions back into the hands of the independent pay review body’, which it says would ‘give our NHS workers the pay they deserve’.

Heavy on health policy, the draft manifesto – published in full by the Spectator, pledges that a Labour Government would:

  • ‘guarantee’ access to treatment within 18 weeks as well as patients being seen within four hours in A&E;
  • ‘tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England, taking action to address postcode lotteries and making sure that the quality of care you receive does not depend on which part of the country you live in’;
  • ‘deliver the Cancer Strategy for England in full by 2020’;
  • ‘properly resourcing ambulance services’ ending ‘the scandal of slowing ambulance response times’;
  • ‘boost capital funding for the NHS, to ensure that patients are cared for in buildings and equipment which are fit for the 21st Century’;
  • ‘introduce a new OBR for Health body to oversee health spending and scrutinize how it is spent’;
  • ‘halt the NHS “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” which are looking at closing health services across England and ask local health groups to redraw the plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances’;
  • ‘create a new quality, safety and excellence regulator – to be called “NHS Excellence”‘;
  • ‘protect patients and legislate to ensure safe staffing levels in the NHS’;
  • ‘re-introduce bursaries and funding for health related degrees’;
  • ‘immediately guarantee the rights of EU staff working in our health and care services’;
  • ‘support NHS whistleblowers to make sure health service staff are able to speak up in support of the best possible standards for patients’ and ‘make it a criminal offence to attack NHS staff’;
  • ‘halt pharmacy closures and review provision to ensure all patients have access to pharmacy services, particularly in deprived or remote communities’.

The document concludes: ‘The next Labour government will reverse privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control. Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act that puts profits before patients.

‘We will reinstate the powers of the Secretary of State for Health to have overall responsibility for the NHS. We will introduce a new legal duty on the Secretary of State and on NHS England to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS at the expense of patient care.’

A Labour health spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that the document was ‘a draft’ of the manifesto, and said senior Labour members were due to meet today to agree on the final wording.

Pulse understands that – although lacking in detail – the pledges relating to general practice are unlikely to change significantly by the time the manifesto is published next week.

Commenting on the pledges, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The BMA has made it explicit that, in order for us to have a comparatively funded health service that compares to similar European countries we need £10bn to address that deficit gap.

‘There is a significant funding gap that would be in place, even with £6bn being committed we’d still be in a situation where general practice is struggling to get the necessary resources and would be competing with other bits of the health service to do that.’

He added that what general practice needs is ‘not just a bigger slice of the cake, but a bigger cake overall to provide the complete service we want to be able to provide to our patients, not just in the community but elsewhere in the NHS and social care as well’.

He said: ‘We need all political parties to really commit to properly funding the NHS and social care, and until that’s in place and the money is delivered then we will continue to see the crisis in care we’re currently experiencing.’