• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Labour unveils plan to save funds and reform NHS

Labour’s plans to reform rather than simply spend more on the NHS has prompted criticism from some unions

Wes Streeting

By: Eastern Eye

THE Labour party said it would aim to save £10 billion by cutting waste and reforming the health service if in power, saying these measures could free up cash to spend on frontline care.

The NHS emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic in crisis, crippled by long waiting lists, ambulance delays and industrial action by staff over pay.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak had pledged to cut waiting lists as one of his five priorities, but has blamed the strikes for missing that target.

Labour’s plans to reform rather than simply spend more on the NHS has prompted criticism from some unions.

But the shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, who has vowed to face down those hostile to his reform agenda, said the plan would ultimately result in more money for frontline services.

“After 14 years of Conservative neglect of the NHS, we are paying more but getting less,” he said in a speech on Tuesday (23), according to extracts released by Labour. “I am focusing on waste because I want to give the public hope that the NHS can be saved.

“The money that is wasted today can be used to get the NHS back on its feet tomorrow. Only Labour has a plan to reform the NHS.”

Labour said it could save £3.5 billion by ending payments to recruitment agencies to cover staffing shortfalls. A further £1.7bn could come by freeing up hospital beds currently occupied by patients who can’t be sent home due to a lack of available care in the community.

However, the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, cautioned against budget cuts to a service that is already struggling due to under-investment.

“Capital budgets are already being raided to plug rising deficits in the dayto-day NHS budget caused by strikes and other cost pressures,” the NHS Confederation said.

Labour has previously set out plans to integrate health and social care, and recruit and retain more carers.

The government has responsibility for the NHS only in England as health is a devolved policy area in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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