Labour pledges pay rises and more NHS hospital staff if it wins general election
The party would also legislate to require NHS trusts to have regard for patient safety when setting staffing levels.
More pay for nurses and doctors and more staff in hospitals was promised by Labour’s shadow health secretary if they win the general election.
Jonathan Ashworth said a Labour government would scrap the 1% cap on pay rises for NHS staff and ensure staffing levels were made “safe” by law.
Mr Ashworth also said Labour would end the “privatisation” of the NHS and ensure private firms supplying services to the NHS must have workers and patients on their boards along with NHS Trusts and boards.
It would apply to firms currently supplying the NHS otherwise they would lose their contracts, he said.
The shadow health secretary received a round of applause from delegates after his speech at the Unison conference in Liverpool, where he said the future of the NHS was at stake if Britain re-elects a Tory government.
Labour say the proposals would be paid for by a rise in corporation tax, which has been cut to 19% from 28% under the Conservatives.
The cost of the proposed pay rise would run into the billions of pounds, health experts say.
Mr Ashworth’s speech was welcomed by unions but Conservative health minister Philip Dunne said Labour running Britain’s economy would result in less money for the NHS not more.
Speaking at the conference Mr Ashworth claimed the NHS was suffering a “Tory manufactured” crisis with patients waiting hours on hospital trolleys, millions waiting for operations and social care services “on the brink”.
“Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain,” he said.
“Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not anymore. Enough is enough.
“Bit by bit, step by step, the NHS under the Tories is being pushed back to the bad old days.
“Labour will defend the National Health Service.”
He also said foreign doctors and nurses from EU countries were, “welcome” and “needed” with their rights protected under a Labour government.
He said his three-point plan of ending the pay freeze, “safer” staffing levels and “fully funded” training of medical staff, would “rebuild” the NHS.
Mr Ashworth has defended the plans after suggestions a rise in corporation tax would not stretch to pay for all of Labour’s proposals in other areas including the scrapping of university tuition fees and boosts to pensions, social care and the schools budget.
Labour say full costings will be in their forthcoming manifesto.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would like to see NHS staff receive an increase in their pay packets.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I would certainly agree NHS staff do a brilliant job and we would certainly like to pay them more than we are able to at the moment (but) we have had to face a very difficult period financially.”