October 28, 2014

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A major review by NHS England, has warned that spending plans for the NHS by the coalition government would leave a large funding gap and would not be enough to prevent an NHS crisis in the next Parliament.

This follows a warning by the Conservative chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, that a continuation of current Conservative plans could lead to “top-ups and charges” for NHS treatment. 

Dr Wollaston, told Newsnight, on October 20: “I personally think that the Chancellor is going to have to write a bigger cheque because I don’t think that as a nation we want to move down the route of having top-ups and charges.”

I agree with Sarah Wollaston that charges to see your GP or to go to A&E are wrong, so it is a big concern to learn that current government plans could see just that. And remember, UKIP has said it too would like to see charges for visiting a GP and that it would like to privatise our NHS just like the Conservatives.

Labour has already made a commitment to raise an extra £2.5billion a year for the NHS through a Mansion Tax on the highest-value properties over £2million , tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco companies.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron was asked to match Labour’s additional £2.5billion for the NHS and failed to do so.

The NHS review which was carried out by senior staff within our health service endorses key planks of Labour’s NHS plan, including:

·         full integration of NHS and social care and a greater role for Health & Well-being Boards;
·         better access to primary care through recruiting more GPs;
·         faster access to cancer tests, as set out by Ed Miliband last weekend;
·         a stronger focus on public health with action on food reformulation and tobacco;
·         new rights and support for carers; and
·         a shift towards a preventative NHS with mental health care at the centre.

It is clear from the report by NHS England that Tory funding plans for the NHS will trigger an NHS crisis in the next Parliament unless there is a dramatic change.

Patients will face even longer waits and rationing, cuts and charges for services if the Conservatives win the election.

The report supports what my Labour colleague, Andy Burnham is saying he wants to do to rescue our NHS, including full integration of health and social care with more support provided in the home. This important reform, alongside Labour’s extra £2.5billion investment in the NHS through a Mansion Tax and a levy on tobacco companies, will go a long way towards solving the challenges faced in our NHS and in addressing the concerns of patients.