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Labour condemns NHS ‘raiding’ winter budget before the election

Labour has condemned the news that CCGs have been asked to tap into next year’s winter budgets to keep urgent care schemes running ahead of the general election, revealed by Pulse and covered by the Telegraph.

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said the party finds it ‘worrying’ that the NHS is raiding next year’s budgets to keep services ‘afloat’ until May.

NHS England, alongside Monitor and the Trust Development Authority, wrote to CCGs in March directing them to continue all winter pressures schemes through to the end of April.

But the GPC pointed the finger at ‘huge political pressure’ to avoid negative NHS stories before May’s election after Pulse found CCGs were funding the extension by tapping in to winter funding for 2015/16.

Mr Burnham said: ‘It is worrying that the NHS is raiding winter budgets to keep things afloat before the election. David Cameron promised to protect the NHS but he wasted £3 billion on a reorganisation that damaged patient care.

‘A&Es across England are operating at their limits after David Cameron made it harder to get a GP appointment and took care away from vulnerable older people. If he gets back in, his extreme spending cuts mean he can’t protect the NHS and the A&E crisis will get even worse. The NHS as we know it can’t survive five more years of the Tories.

‘Labour is the only party facing up to the A&E crisis with a fully-funded Rescue Plan. We will legislate for the mansion tax and tobacco levy in the first Labour budget to bring in resources this year. Labour will give people a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours and recruit 20,000 more nurses to help ease the pressure on A&Es.’