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Labour pledges £26 billion real-terms NHS ‘rescue plan’

LABOUR in government would launch a real-terms £26 billion “rescue plan” to save the ailing NHS, the party will pledge tomorrow.

Money generated from reversing corporation tax cuts and by taxing the richest individuals would be spent on recruiting thousands more medical and support staff under Labour’s plan.

The party would also restore old NHS buildings and buy state-of-the-art equipment.

Labour says its plan represents at least £6 billion more in real-terms funding than that announced by the Tories last year.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for a 4 per cent increase in overall NHS spending in its pre-election health manifesto.

Labour says its plan represents a yearly average increase of 4.3 per cent.

At the Royal Society of Medicine tonight, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say that Labour would increase the total Department of Health and Social Care budget to £178bn by 2023-24.

The BMA has warned that the NHS is heading into one of its worst-ever winters — with NHS trusts issuing “black alerts” on overcrowding as patients wait on trolleys for hospital beds.

Mr Ashworth’s speech references the “heartbreaking” image that was publicised recently of an 88-year-old woman with dementia who was left waiting in A&E on a trolley for six hours.

He will say tonight: “A decade of Tory underfunding and cuts has driven our NHS into year-round crisis.

“Over 15,000 beds have been cut, hospitals are crumbling and our NHS is chronically short of nurses and family doctors.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the cash boost “can’t come soon enough” as it would revitalise “our most cherished national institution.”

Labour plans to bring NHS capital expenditure to the international average, spend £1bn a year on training such as restoring the axed nursing and midwifery bursaries and spend £1bn more on expanding public health services.

Mr McDonnell says the party would also prioritise protecting the NHS from privatisation, amid concerns about rising drug prices through a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

At Labour’s conference in September, leader Jeremy Corbyn announced plans for a state-run pharmaceutical company to cut the cost of some drugs by producing generic versions.

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