Labour calls on government to bring forward £500m winter bailout fund

28 Sep 17

Labour has called on the government to bring forward a winter bailout fund of £500m to bolster overstretched NHS services.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Labour wanted to see the funds going towards increasing capacity in hospitals to cope with the spike in demand during the winter months.

The cash would allow hospitals to secure additional staffing without resorting to costly agency staff and deliver effective arrangements between NHS and social care to reduce delayed transfers of care, Labour have suggested.

Theresa May’s government had refused to give extra funding to the NHS last year, which pushed the service to its limits and causing misery for patients, Ashworth said earlier this week.

He added: “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”.

NHS Providers said it had consistently warned of the urgent need for extra funding for staff and beds ahead of the expected winter pressures.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the organisation, said: “Unfortunately though, it is getting very late in the day to put in place the extra resources that will be needed.

“It is positive that planning for winter is considerably more developed than last year and that emergency care performance has been given greater priority.”

Hopson noted while all extra funding for the NHS and social care is welcome all the main party manifestos fell short of the estimates of extra cash needed for the health service.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The NHS planned for winter earlier this year than ever before and has robust plans in place, supported by an extra £100m for A&E departments and £2bn funding for the social care system to help improve discharging and free up beds in hospitals.   

“Since 2010, hardworking NHS staff are treating 1,800 more patients within four hours each day and are seeing 2.8 million more people each year.”

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