Labor and Conservatives ‘would leave the NHS worse off than under austerity’ | National Health Service

Both Labor and the Conservatives would leave the NHS with smaller spending increases than during years of Tory austerity, according to an independent analysis of their manifestos by a leading group of health experts.

The respected Nuffield Trust’s assessment of both parties’ costly NHS policies, announced in their manifestos last week, says the level of funding increases would leave them struggling to pay existing staff costs, let alone the bill of massive planned increases in doctors. nurses and other staff in the long-term workforce plan agreed last year.

The Nuffield Trust said: “The manifestos imply increases (in annual NHS funding) between 2024-25 and 2028-29 of 1.5% each year for the Liberal Democrats, 0.9% for the Conservatives and 1. 1% for Labor.

“Both the Conservative and Labor proposals would represent a lower level of funding increase than the ‘austerity’ period between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

“This would be an unprecedented slowdown in NHS finances and it is inconceivable that it would accompany the dramatic recovery everyone is promising. “This slowdown comes after three years of particularly tight finances.”

The trust added that the planned funding increases would “make the next few years the tightest funding period in the history of the NHS”.

Sally Gainsbury, senior policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust and a leading authority on NHS funding, said: “They will struggle to be able to pay existing staff, let alone the additional staff set out in the workforce plan. “It’s completely unreal.”

A Labor spokesperson, when asked about the Nuffield Trust analysis, said the party would “make the investment and reform the needs of the NHS”.

They added: “Our £2bn investment will deliver 40,000 extra appointments a week in the evenings and weekends, double the number of scans, 700,000 extra emergency dental appointments, 8,500 more mental health professionals and mental health support. in every school and community. We will pay for it by clamping down on tax evaders, because workers can’t afford another tax increase.”

Rishi Sunak promised to reduce NHS waiting lists from a record 7.2 million, but there are now 7.5 million people waiting for treatment. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

The NHS state has played a key role in the election so far. Rishi Sunak promised last year to reduce waiting lists by a record 7.2 million, but there are now 7.5 million people waiting for treatment, a figure that rose again last week.

The Labor Party has promised an extra 2 million appointments a year, but the NHS currently carries out an annual total of 92 million appointments, tests and operations.

The Labor Party plans to reduce waiting list times with weekend clinics, using spare private sector capacity and doubling the number of scanners to offer faster diagnoses. He says his plan will cost £1.3bn, paid for by a crackdown on tax avoidance, but it is a small proportion of the annual NHS budget for England of around £165bn.

The analysis will add to the growing sense that neither major party is being honest with voters about the true implications of their tax and spending policies.

Paul Johnson, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said that for Labor to deliver the change it promises, there would need to be more money on the table. “Labour’s manifesto gives no indication that there is a plan for where the money would come from to fund this,” he said.

The findings come as leading NHS figures call for a Labor government to get serious about NHS reform and funding within its first 100 days in office.

Former Conservative MP and chair of the Commons health select committee Sarah Wollaston, who announced last week she was resigning as chair of NHS Devon over attempts to impose further spending cuts, has called on the Labor Party to change the capital spending rules that punish trusts for overspending by cutting their capital budgets.

“It is particularly perverse to punish the people who need it most and actually take away some of their ability to get back on track,” Wollaston said. “Systems like Devon desperately need more capital to be more efficient.”

He said a Labor government also had to address public health issues and the need to put more emphasis on prevention, which the Conservatives had neglected since 2010. “We can’t afford to wait,” he said. NHS spending row emerges Labor and the Conservatives may be on track to reach their lowest combined vote share since the Second World War, new analysis shows.

The latest Opinium survey for the Observer It also shows a move away from the main parties. Labor has maintained a commanding 17-point lead over the Conservatives with less than three weeks to go until election day. However, Reform and the Liberal Democrats are up 2 points each.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “The Conservatives have taken bold steps to reduce waiting lists and secure the future of the NHS, with the total budget having increased by more than a third in real terms since 2010 and our long-term workforce plan. £2.4bn term – the first of its kind – providing record numbers of doctors and nurses.”

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