The Health of the Nation

The Health of the Nation

The latest report from the King’s Fund says: “The NHS is under growing financial pressure. Between 2010/11 and 2014/15, health spending increased by an average of 1.2% a year in real terms and increases are set to continue at a similar rate until the end of this parliament. This is far below the annual growth rate of 3.7% in previous years, and is not sufficient to cover growing demand.”

They noted that although the NHS was treating more patients than ever, inadequate funding is beginning to take its toll. The current under-funding cannot be made up by more “efficiency savings”. All our public services have been trying to save through efficiency for many years. We need proper levels of funding and that is what Labour is promising. No signs on the side of buses. A straightforward pledge of £5bn.

But it’s about more than just money. We are facing a recruitment and retention crisis in nursing. The UK’s fact-checking charity has said the number of nurses from the EU has been increasing at a historically rapid rate in recent years as the number of nurses trained in Britain has dropped. These nurses are very welcome, and we will guarantee their right to stay here after Brexit, but they are masking an issue with nurse training in this country.

I have friends who are nurses and they tell me the NHS just cannot get the staff it needs. Often they rely on agency staff. That has cost implications and quality of care implications. It’s not a good way to do business. So Labour will pay nurses more to keep nursing an attractive career choice and put back in place the nursing bursaries that the Tories scrapped, to encourage more of our young people to go into nursing.

The NHS was created by a Labour Government and became the envy of the world. We have a far-reaching vision for taking it into the 21st Century. Aligned to social care to offer a seamless service to older people and taking mental health as seriously as physical health. But demand on our NHS is also driven by the lifestyle decisions we make and our income levels. Labour’s policies on homes fit for people to live in, affordable rents, a Real Living Wage, extended paternity leave to help Dads bond with babies, high quality, affordable childcare, free healthy school meals, excellent education for all, ending the stress of tuition fees and keeping Winter Fuel Payments all move us towards a happier and healthier society.

So vote Labour on June 8th to keep our NHS properly funded and to keep us all healthier.

Jo Graham