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Labour calls for £500m emergency ‘winter bailout fund’ for NHS

Labour will call for the government to commit a £500m “winter bailout fund” for the NHS over the coming months.

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, says the money is needed to increase capacity in struggling hospitals and pay for extra staff as the NHS faces the worst winter on record.

He also said it was Labour’s “ambition” to return NHS funding increases to the same level as during the 1997-2010 Labour governments.

Mr Ashworth claims that Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and Theresa May have failed to provide an adequate plan to how the NHS is preparing, for what is expected to be, the worst winter on record for the health and social care service. 

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said:

“Any bailout money this winter should be used to bolster frontline staff and help ensure safe patient care. Having the right number of nurses is key to treating people effectively and safely.

“Yet too many hospitals are chronically short of nursing staff. As demand increases over the winter months,  it’s patients who will pay the price unless something is done.

“Properly funding the NHS is a political choice – it should not reach the stage where a last-minute bailout is required to keep people safe.”

The Shadow Health Secretary will use a speech to the Labour party conference today to call for the extra funding.