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Labour accuses Theresa May of ‘lying’ and underfunding the NHS

The party says the NHS is facing a staff exodus

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 26 April 2017 08:50 BST
The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister (Getty Images)

Labour has branded Theresa May a liar and accused her of dishonestly underfunding the NHS by the backdoor, as it unveils its health service offer to the electorate.

Jon Ashworth, the party’s shadow health secretary, said Theresa May had “lied” about whether she was going to call a general election and that in the same vein she was being dishonest about whether she was adequately funding the health service.

The party today announced that it would end the Government’s 1 per cent pay freeze on NHS staff and instead follow the recommendations of an independent health service body on what pay levels should be set at.

Labour says the policy would be funded by reversing the Conservatives’ sharp cuts to corporation tax and that it is necessary to prevent an exodus of doctors and nurses, who are suffering from rock-bottom morale due to a lack of resources.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Ashworth said: “We will give the NHS the funding it needs, it’s not had the funding it needs under this Conservative government.

“This election is all about Theresa May saying ‘trust her, trust her’ – well, first or all we know she lied about whether she was going to have a general election or not, but also she’s being dishonest about whether she’s given the NHS the money it asked for.

“One of her first acts as Prime Minister was to get into a very unseemly public spat with Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS who pointed out that the Government has not given the NHS the money it asked for. A Labour government will give the NHS it needs.”

Figures released by ministers at the start of the year confirmed that NHS spending per person was to be cut in real terms from 2018. NHS England will face a sharp reduction o 0.6 per cent in real terms per head in 2018-19.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and the PM Ms May have however claimed to be putting an extra £10 billion into the health service. The claim was disputed by both Mr Stevens and the Tory-led Health Select Committee, however.

The Health Committee said that in fact the real investment figure was likely to be just a third of that at £3.5 billion when inflation and the scope of the spending was taken into account.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's shadow health secretary (Getty Images) (Getty)

Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said Labour’s policy was a “shambles” and that the money had already been spent “ten times over”.

Conservative MP Philip Dunne, a health minister said: “A strong NHS needs a strong economy. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong and stable leadership we need to secure our growing economy and with it funding for the NHS and its dedicated staff.

“We’ve protected and increased the NHS budget and got thousands more staff in hospitals. But all that’s at risk with Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical economic policies that would mean less money for the NHS. Just look at Wales where Labour’s economic mismanagement mean they had to cut funding.

“There’s a real risk of Jeremy Corbyn getting into government because the SNP and Liberal Democrats would do a deal to put him there. Only a vote for Theresa May and your local Conservative candidate can protect our economy and public services.”

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