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Labour calls for £500m winter bailout fund for the NHS


By Carolyn Wickware
26 September 2017

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The NHS needs £500m to boost hospital capacity ahead of looming winter pressures, Labour’s shadow health secretary will say today.

Jonathan Ashworth will tell the Labour Party Conference that the investment is required urgently to avoid ‘stumbling’ into another winter crisis.

Labour is predicting 266 operations will be cancelled every day, putting more than 4.3 million patients on NHS treatment waiting lists by the end of winter.

The NHS needs £500m to boost hospital capacity ahead of looming winter pressures, Labour’s shadow health secretary will say today.

Jonathan Ashworth will tell the Labour Party Conference that the investment is required urgently to avoid ‘stumbling’ into another winter crisis.

Labour is predicting 266 operations will be cancelled every day, putting more than 4.3 million patients on NHS treatment waiting lists by the end of winter.

Mr Ashworth’s speech comes after an analysis of official data by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine found that the number of patients waiting in A&E for over 12 hours has increased by 10,546% in the last five years.

Labour said the funding should be used to increase hospital capacity by hiring more staff and facilitating the discharge of hospital patients into social care.

However, trust leaders have said it is ‘very late in the day’ for extra resources.

Mr Ashworth will say: ‘Last year Theresa May stuck her head in the sand and refused to give the NHS the money it needed to keep services running properly.'

He will add: ‘Labour is calling for a comprehensive package of emergency support, including a new £500m winter bailout fund, to urgently be put in place so that patients don’t suffer the same pain as last year all over again.

‘It is not acceptable for the Government to stumble into another NHS winter crisis – they’ve been well warned and need to take action now.'

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said politicians have been ‘warned consistently’ about the need for more staff and beds to cope with winter pressures.

He said: ‘Unfortunately though, it is getting very late in the day to put in place the extra resources that will be needed.’

He added: ‘All extra investment in the NHS and social care is welcome. But we know that the plans in all the main party manifestos fell well short of the extra funding the independent Office of Budget Responsibility estimated was needed.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said the NHS could be ‘sleepwalking’ into another winter crisis ‘that has the potential to be worse’.

He urged the Government to ‘end the patter of short-termism’ in NHS policymaking.

He said: ‘Long term investment and workforce planning are urgently needed; especially as recent figures show that three in four medical specialties are facing a shortage of doctors.’

He added that winter pressures ‘are now stark year-round’, with missed targets and bed shortages.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire declared a ‘critical internal incident’ because of a lack of beds earlier this month.

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