Nigel Edwards responds to Labour's 'NHS Rescue Plan'

New money announced by Labour would mean the NHS could breathe a sigh of relief, but tough decisions will still have to be made.

Press release

Published: 12/11/2019

Responding to Labour’s ‘NHS Rescue Plan’, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

“In recent years the NHS budget has grown far more slowly than it needs to, piling huge pressure on staff. The strain is showing with over 100,000 vacancies, almost insurmountable waiting times and GP numbers falling for the first time since the 1960s.1 This new money would mean the NHS could breathe a sigh of relief. The extra money for investment in building and equipment is desperately needed and it is particularly encouraging to see some of this go towards general practice.

“A 4% increase a year will make a big difference compared to the 1.4% average the NHS has grown used to in recent years. It is enough to get most waiting times back on track over time, but tough decisions will still have to be made. Although ‘ending privatisation’ will appeal to many, stopping the NHS from funding private procedures will not actually save much money as private companies and NHS trusts get paid the same price per operation.

“It’s not all about money though, extreme staff shortages are the greatest problem facing the NHS. We’re very pleased to see measures we recommended like bringing back grants for student nurses but more will still need to be done to keep staff in the NHS and attract them from abroad.2 Increasing GP training by this amount will only work if young doctors see general practice as a viable and attractive career option – both GP services and hospitals are struggling to fill training posts and there are only so many medical trainees to go around.”

  1. You can read our analysis of falling GP numbers here.
  2. Closing the gap: Key areas for action on the health and care workforce is our report on the NHS workforce with The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation.
  3. You can find our information pack of key facts and figures on the NHS and social care: NHS and social care: Facts and figures for the 2019 general election

The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk

To speak to one of our experts please call Kirsty Ridyard on 020 7462 0555 / 07780 475571 or Mark Dayan on 020 7462 0538 kirsty.ridyard@nuffieldtrust.org.uk / mark.dayan@nuffieldtrust.org.uk

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