Now Labour is in, press for action to rescue the NHS

With 412 Labour MPs and a huge majority in the House of Commons, Keir Starmer’s Labour government clearly now has the power to bring in real change for the NHS.

The challenge for campaigners now is to ensure the new government seizes this opportunity to repair and rebuild the NHS, which is facing a long list of serious problems, all of which cost money to fix:

  • The 7.6m waiting list that was bloated, but not created by the Covid pandemic
  • The £3bn black hole in NHS finances
  • The unresolved dispute with the Junior doctors seeking to restore pay to 2010 levels
  • The need to negotiate a new dental contract to deliver Labour’s promise of an extra 700,000 NHS appointments a year
  • Chronic A&E delays
  • The £12bn (and rising) backlog of basic maintenance and renewal of equipment
  • The estimated £50bn cost of the NHS Workforce Plan over the next 12 years
  • The £30bn-plus cost over several years of Labour’s Manifesto promise to deliver the New Hospitals Programme (Boris Johnson’s empty promise of “40 new hospitals”)

Both the Nuffield Trust and the Institute for Fiscal Studies have warned that Labour’s boast to have costed all of its Manifesto promises was an empty one, and that both Labour and Tory manifestos ignored a looming black hole in the public finances opened up by Jeremy Hunt’s recent tax cuts.

The Lowdown has additionally warned that the last minute, low-key inclusion of the promise to build new hospitals was completely unfunded.

Labour leaders have made repeated promises not to raise taxes for ‘working people’, and if these are kept, then the commitments on the NHS and other public services can only be funded through progressive taxation on the wealthy – which could include equalising the tax on dividends with income tax, a wealth tax, increasing inheritance tax, or corporation tax.

Full story in The Lowdown, 9 July 2024