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Health campaigners hit out at ‘light’ Labour manifesto NHS pledges

HEALTH campaigners have hit out at the Labour manifesto’s “light” pledges of NHS improvement.

The party’s manifesto, unveiled by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Thursday, promises to cut waiting times in the health service by creating 40,000 more appointments every week.

Other pledges include a doubling of cancer scanner numbers, the recruitment of 8,500 additional mental health staff, a dentistry rescue plan and a child health action plan.

But Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman and retired consultant paediatrician Dr John Puntis described the manifesto as “light both on detail and any indication that it might be evidence-based.”

While it promises that the NHS will always be publicly owned and funded, he said, “its parallel commitment to use ‘the spare capacity in the independent sector’ means funding will pay for yet more NHS staff doing more sessional work in private theatres and clinics.”

Funding would also be diverted to shareholders, leading to the “further undermining of the NHS and its ability to build back its capacity,” Dr Puntis added.

“The reality is that there is no spare capacity in the private sector that does not take away NHS funding and staffing.”

He said that 40,000 extra appointments would be “a drop in the ocean,” representing a less than 2 per cent increase, and even that would be “dependent on the willingness of overworked staff to do more overtime, with no commitment to restoring fair pay.

“The NHS needs a sea change in policy from a new political leadership,” Dr Puntis said.

“Much more ambition is needed, harking back to the boldness of the party in 1945 when faced with rebuilding a war-ravaged society.

“A good starting point would be to declare a national health and care emergency.”

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