Jeremy Corbyn will promise a “new deal for the NHS” today, promising to take a million people off hospital waiting lists and impose tough new A&E targets.
The Labour leader will outline plans to invest more than £5bn-a-year in frontline services, funded by a higher rate of income tax on those earning more than £80,000 a year.
The package would include £10bn of capital funding which would be put into NHS buildings and IT systems, in the aftermath of last week’s cyberattack, to make them “fit for the modern day”.
Mr Corbyn will use a speech at the Royal College of Nurses conference in Liverpool to accuse the Conservative Government of allowing the health service to be “plundered by private corporations”.
He will say: “In the past seven years the Tories have driven our National Health Service into crisis.
“A&E departments are struggling to cope. Waiting lists are soaring and, and as we saw last week, Tory cuts have exposed patient services to cyberattack.
“Imagine what would happen to the NHS if the Conservatives under Theresa May were to have another five years in power.
“It would be unrecognisable: a national health service in name, cut back, broken up and plundered by private corporations.
“Only Labour will put the NHS back on its feet.
“Today we are pledging an extra £37bn over the course of the next Parliament, including £10bn of capital funding to make sure that NHS buildings and IT systems are fit for the modern day.”
Health trusts have struggled to meet targets – dating from the New Labour era – that patients should be seen at A&E within four hours, and should wait no longer than 18 weeks for an operation.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, announced last weekend that those earning less than £80,000 – 95% of earners – would not be asked to pay more tax under a Labour government, but those earning above that level would be asked to pay “a modest amount” more.
The Conservatives said Labour had given no detail on how the higher taxes would work – as £80,000 is not currently a tax threshold – or how much they would expect such a tax to raise. A spokesman for the party said the £10bn of capital expenditure had not been funded at all, calling the idea “nonsensical”.
Mr Corbyn will say that Labour would take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the Parliament by guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks. Labour would also make sure patients can be seen in A&E within four hours – with the most urgent patients seen within one hour – he will say.
Secondly, Labour would create a new £500m winter pressures fund to help ensure patients never have to experience a winter crisis like the one of recent months. And third, the party would deliver a Cancer Strategy for England in full by 2020, helping 2.5 million people living with cancer.
Health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “Ahead of the NHS’ 70th birthday Labour is promising to give the NHS the resources it needs to deliver the best possible service for patients right across the country.
“NHS staff and patients have been let down by the Tories for too long.”
But Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said: “You cannot solve the crisis in our NHS and social care services by simply imposing more top-down targets on staff and plucking numbers out of thin air.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a fully costed plan to deliver £6bn more per year for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax.”
The target to see 95% of A&E patients within four hours has not been met since July 2015. Last year 2.5 million patients waited longer. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted that it may not be met for another year.
Labour has already vowed to hike up tax on private medical insurance to pay for free parking at hospitals, and increase the rate of corporation tax to pay for schools.
The Conservatives say they are putting £10bn into the NHS during this five-year period, although a cross-party committee of MPs has questioned the figure.