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Socialist Health Association warns Labour under-funding risks NHS ‘decline’ – LabourList

Labour’s caution on tax hikes and borrowing “condemns the NHS to continued fragmentation and decline,”, the party’s affiliated health group has warned.

The Socialist Health Association (SHA) has also voiced concerns about a ‘lack of detail’ in the Labour manifesto on health, but praised some aspects of the policy document.

Labour’s manifesto pledges on health included doubling the number of cancer scanners, training thousands more GPs and midwives and 40,000 more appointments per week to cut waiting times.

Keir Starmer said in his speech launching the manifesto: “We don’t have a magic wand. But what we do have – what this manifesto represents, is a credible long-term plan.

“A plan built on stable foundations, with clear first steps, tough spending rules that will keep taxes and inflation low. NHS waiting times cut – with 40,000 extra appointments every week.”

But an SHA spokesperson said: “The NHS needs investment. There is no way around it. The refusal to raise taxes or borrow combined with the continued commitment to outsourcing condemns the NHS to continued fragmentation and decline.

“It seems from recent research that a high percentage of outsourcing and PFI contracts are due to end during the next five years. We need a commitment to bring this back in house.”

READ MORE: Labour manifesto 2024: What are the party’s NHS and health policies?

The SHA spoke more positively about many of the specific policies in the manifesto, including the pledges to bring down waiting lists, bring in new state-of-the-art scanners, and public health measures to stem rates of smoking, obesity and gambling.

However, other pledges were more luke-warmly received – such as recruiting 8,500 new staff over five years to treat mental health problems in children and adults, which was described as a “very modest proposal”.

They added: “The manifesto is not detailed and is, at times, unclear: is the NHS just a commissioning organisation or is it the provider of healthcare?

“If it buys services from private providers there will be less healthcare to go around because they will take a cut for shareholder profit and they will need to use largely NHS trained staff.

“And we know that the use of outsourced services deepens inequalities.”

READ MORE: ‘The Labour manifesto’s health policies demonstrate little-noticed radicalism’

Chief executive of The King’s Fund Sarah Woolnough also sounded a note of caution.

She said: “New stats released just this morning show the waiting list for planned NHS care has increased on the previous month and now stands at 7.6 million.

“Long waits for care have been brought down before, but it takes time. Labour’s aim to clear the backlog within five years will take real effort and absolute focus, and may mean the big, transformational reforms set out in this manifesto such as healthcare closer to home will be slower to realise.”

Labour was not immediately available for comment.

Find out more through our wider  2024 Labour party manifesto coverage so far…


Manifesto launch: Highlights, reaction and analysis as it happened

Full manifesto costs breakdown – and how tax and borrowing fund it

The key manifesto policy priorities in brief

Manifesto NHS and health policies – at a glance

Manifesto housing policy – at a glance

Manifesto Palestine policy – at a glance

Manifesto immigration policies – at a glance


‘The manifesto’s not perfect, but at the launch you could feel change is coming’

 IPPR: ‘Labour’s manifesto is more ambitious than the Ming vase strategy suggests’

‘Victory will be short-lived unless Labour fixes broken services with proper funding and public ownership’

Socialist Health Association warns Labour under-funding risks NHS ‘decline’

 ‘The manifesto shows a new centrism, with the state key driving growth’

 Fabians: ‘This a substantial core offer, not the limit of Labour ambition’

 ‘No surprises, but fear not: Labour manifesto is the start, not the end’

 ‘What GB energy will do and why we desperately need it’

 ‘Labour’s health policies show a little-noticed radicalism’

 GMB calls manifesto ‘vision of hope’ but Unite says ‘not enough’

 IFS: Manifesto doesn’t raise enough cash to fund ‘genuine change’

 Watch as Starmer heckled by protestor with ‘youth deserve better’ banner


 Labour vows to protect green belt despite housebuilding drive

 Manifesto commits to Brexit and being ‘confident’ outside EU

 Labour to legislate on New Deal within 100 days – key policies breakdown 

 Labour to give 16-year-olds right to vote

 Starmer says ‘manifesto for wealth creation’ will kickstart growth


Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

If you have anything to share that we should be looking into or publishing about this or any other topic involving Labour or about the election, on record or strictly anonymously, contact us at [email protected]

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