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Labour promises GP investment boost

New transport fund for young cancer patients

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Labour Party has said it will invest more into general practice if it becomes the next government, alongside numerous other investment pledges for healthcare.

Various pledges were made during a speech by shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth given yesterday at the Party’s annual conference being held this week in Liverpool.

Mr Ashworth said: “We’ll invest in general practice, we’ll invest to prepare our NHS for winter, we’ll establish a National Care Service and to ensure we have the most up to date lifesaving technology and equipment we’ll invest £10bn extra in infrastructure too.”

He criticised the government for its years of austerity that had led to growing waiting lists, less beds, lost services in the community and hospitals having to sell land.

“Eight years of austerity sees hospitals crumbling, equipment breaking down,” said Mr Ashworth.

“Austerity has meant we are so short of midwives that last year half of maternity units shut their doors at some point to women in the throes of labour.

“Understaffing has become so chronic, they are now even saying you’ll need to book an appointment to go to A&E. How out of touch.”

If there was to be a Labour government, there would be fair pay based on collective bargaining and safeguarded rights of all NHS and social care staff from the EU, an expansion in training places, a revived bursary, and fully funded child and adolescent mental health services, he added.

“Rather than cutting prevention budgets we will fully fund public health provision including sexual health services and drug and alcohol addiction services,” he said.

During the speech, Mr Ashworth also announced Labour would create a dedicated travel scheme for young cancer patients and their families to ensure the NHS covered all costs associated with travel for cancer treatment.

There are an estimated 4,450 new diagnoses of cancer in children and young people every year in the UK but because of its rarity, treatment for these people is delivered in specialist treatment centres across the country.

At the moment, the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme reimburses hospital travel costs to people on low incomes but to qualify, families must receive an income related benefit or allowance, meet eligibility criteria for the NHS Low Income Scheme and have a referral from a healthcare professional.

Labour’s proposed £5m annual Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund would be available to all children in England, regardless of income, Ashworth said, adding: “Childhood cancer already places a deep emotional and physical strain on families, without the extra worry of being able to afford expensive travel costs for treatment

“Labour’s new commitment to a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund will provide the help that families need.”

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn also highlighted the NHS in his speech to the conference delegates yesterday, saying: “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS –Labour’s proudest creation and it stands as a beacon for those still fighting for universal healthcare free at the point of need.

“But this Conservative government has pushed our NHS into crisis, with more people waiting longer in A&E and to see a GP and over four million people on hospital waiting lists. And there is a mental health crisis too, causing real pain and anguish.”

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