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Labour to announce GP funding pledge at Pulse Live conference



The Labour Party is due to announce a pledge to boost funding for general practice at today’s Pulse Live conference.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will announce a new commitment to increase the share of NHS funding that goes to primary care, including a new £500 million Primary Care Infrastructure Investment Fund.

Closing the two-day conference with a keynote address this afternoon, the shadow secretary will launch a Labour plan for:

  • £5bn extra for the NHS this year;
  • £2bn extra for social care this year with an extra £8 billion over a Parliament;
  • £1bn investment in NHS staffing to bring back the training bursary, support fair pay and invest in Career Professional Development of NHS staff;
  • To protect and enhance public health budgets and mental health budgets including a new Child Health Fund of £500m; and
  • A £10 billion infrastructure fund to invest in the new facilities, beds, equipment and technology.

He will say: ‘When we see waiting lists around four million, when we see ambulances backed up outside overcrowded hospitals, when we see operations cancelled including cancer operations too, when we see elderly confused vulnerable patients stranded on trolleys in the corridors of bursting wards, then I’m afraid a nod and wink from the Prime Minister isn’t good enough.

‘We need a long term investment plan for our NHS and care sector urgently. Patients simply should not be expected to wait any longer.’

Mr Ashworth will also recognise the ‘deep and severe pressures’ facing general practice, amid the Government’s ‘failure’ to boost workforce numbers.

He will highlight that:

  • The number of full time equivalent GPs fell by 720 between September 2015 and December 2017, despite a Government target to hire 5,000 more;
  • The number of general practice nurses has fallen by 343 over the same period;
  • The most deprived areas currently tend to have the fewest GPs and nurses per 100,000 people.

The speech comes as Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday that she intends to set out a ‘multiyear’ NHS funding settlement later this year, in a bid to allow the NHS to plan for the longer term and avoid annual ‘top ups’.

But Mr Ashworth will say, regarding Labour’s funding pledge: ‘These are the levels of investment that the patient who has had a cancer operation cancelled or the elderly patient waiting hours on a trolley in a hospital corridor needs now.

‘The test for Theresa May is whether she genuinely delivers the significant long term investment package Labour is offering or whether it will turn out yet again to be more thin Tory gruel.’