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Labour leader promises funding for 20,000 more NHS nurses


Labour will deliver 36,000 extra staff for the NHS including 20,000 extra nurses if it wins next year’s general election Ed Miliband pledged today.

Speaking at the party conference in Manchester this afternoon Mr Miliband unveiled what he called a Time to Care Fund worth £2.5bn to pay for the extra nurses as well as 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more healthcare assistants and 3,000 more midwives.

“It is time to care about the NHS so that doctors, nurses, care workers, midwives are able to spend proper time with us – and not to be rushed off their feet”

Ed Miliband

He said Labour would fund the increases through a £1bn clampdown on tax avoidance, a £1.4bn mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m and a levy on tobacco companies worth £150m a year.

But he pulled back from writing a blank cheque for the service, telling delegates: “We are going to have to transform the way the NHS works in the year ahead.”

He promised an integrated service between health and social care telling delegates: “The NHS is currently creaking. One in four people wait a week or more for a GP appointment.

“We have seen the scandal of care visits restricted to just 15 minutes for the elderly. It is time to care about the NHS so that doctors, nurses, care workers, midwives are able to spend proper time with us – and not to be rushed off their feet.”

Ed Miliband

He added: “The NHS is sliding backwards under this government. They are privatising and fragmenting it. Just think what it would be like after five more years of this government. It is not safe in their hands.

“We built the NHS, we saved the NHS, we will repeal the Health and Social Care Act, and we will transform the NHS for the future.

“And we won’t borrow a penny to do it. And we won’t do it by raising taxes on everyday working people,” said Mr Miliband

“We will raise £1bn from tax avoidance, including by closing the tax loop-holes for the hedge funds,” he said.

“We will use the proceeds from a tax on houses worth over £2m. And we will raise revenue from the tobacco companies, who make soaring profits on the back of ill health.

“Doing it together, means everyone playing their part to help fund our NHS. The stakes are incredibly high in this election. But nowhere more than on the NHS.

The Labour leaders promise of more staff comes after months of intense registered nurse recruitment by the NHS following the Francis Report into failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Since August last year, the number of full time equivalent registered nurses in the service has increased by more than 8,700.

“These proposals are not only very welcome, but investing in nursing is absolutely necessary, whoever wins the next election”

Peter Carter

In the acute setting, where recruitment has been focused, the number of nurses has risen from 169,000 nurses in August 2013 to a high of 175,000 in May this year.

Responding to the Labour leader’s pledge, Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “A long term plan to keep the nurses we have and to recruit more for the coming demand is very welcome, and nurses on the front line will be relieved to know that their concerns have been heeded.

Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of NursingPeter Carter

“These proposals are not only very welcome, but investing in nursing is absolutely necessary, whoever wins the next election,” he said.

“We need to celebrate the difference nurses can make if they are properly resourced across the board, whether they are staffing an A&E unit, delivering public health messages, helping a patient to manage their diabetes or providing long term care at home,” said Dr Carter.

He added: “The challenge is significant, but we have the expertise within the nursing profession to make the NHS we want to see in the future a reality.

“Today’s announcement is a very important signal that this has been recognised at a political level and we look forward to working with the Labour Party to further develop the way forward.”

“An investment in midwives not only improves outcomes but also has the potential to lead to reductions in expenditure”

Cathy Warwick

Commenting on the announcement, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a welcome announcement and one that we are delighted to hear.

Cathy Warwick

Cathy Warwick

“This shows that Ed Miliband and his team have listened to our concerns and to the evidence, and understand the value of midwives and the maternity team,” she said.

“It shows Ed Milliband understands the crucial role midwives play in ensuring the highest quality of care is available to women, their babies and indeed the whole family.

“An investment in midwives not only improves outcomes but also has the potential to lead to reductions in expenditure,” she added. “We would welcome a similar commitment from other parties to the care of mothers and babies.”


Readers' comments (19)

  • Good news. Hope the Employers see this news before they "rationalise" services and continue to cut the pay of those doing front line work. Retention is a better option, of course, but which country will we recruit from this time?

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  • That's all well and good, but where are these nurses going to come from given that a lot of nurses of my vintage are going to be retiring over the next few years.

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  • From abroad I suppose.

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  • I do have to point out that under Labour government the appalling failings of Mid-Staffs trust were swept under the carpet.
    I do not agree with a lot of Conservative views, however we CANNOT forget that under this party it was only then that these failings were discovered. There may have only been a small increase of the number of nurses provided in healthcare but its still more than what labour ever contributed.

    Labour are well known for the 'emu' effect they have on difficult situations. I believe yet again they are making promises they can't keep

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  • Emu effect?

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  • Figure of speech, same as ostrich's ... Burying their head in the sand

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  • Oh dear here we go again, RCN and Labour in bed, congratulating themselves on dreaming up policies that cannot work in practise.

    We are already hugely short of nurses, agency usage has exploded over the past 6 years, both parties have no idea of the volume of agency usage becasue they do not record usage figures and why don't they? Is it becasue if they did we would all know how bad the nursing workforce really is.Vast numbers of nurses are disengaged and looking for other employment a lot of them moving overseas or going to work for John Lewis etc.

    This is a global problem, people do not want to work as nurses anymore, it's hard-work, physically and emotionally. You get very little thanks, your pay and conditions are constantly eroded, you get nurse leaders who are so far removed from reality it is frightening.

    Realistically where are these other 20,000 going to come from, as we already have a crisis pending with the amount of nurses who are due to retire. An extra 20,000 is that after the current shortfall has been dealt with? We cannot keep going to Europe, we are leaving these countries in very difficult situations.

    We are also facing revalidation which may mean that a further 15% of nurses are not able to practise.

    On a different note I bet that the RCN are delighted about this announcement, they have done nothing to stand up for their members, they have a vested interest and until the RCN and the nurse leaders are ousted out, nothing will change.

    This shows that Ed understands that midwives play a vital role, Ed is an intelligent man and if he didn't know this there would be something wrong but if he does think by cosing up to the RCN, when most Nurses are part from the social media nurses completely fed-up with the RCN on reflection he must be an idiot.

    Isn't about time for some radical thought, for some new ideas?

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  • Yes don't believe it all the politicians are the same, they say what the voters want and then they don't, sorry but after 32 yrs I'm off!!!

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  • tinkerbell

    Please watch this lovely gent tell it like it was being without an NHS. Lest we forget.

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  • Here we go no-one is suggesting that we get rid of the NHS Tinkerbell! Why is it when ever anyone critises the "perfect" NHS we have these hysterical comments that people are trying to get rid of it.

    If we carry on like this, there will be no NHS and why? Becasue the people in charge would not allow a realistic asessment of the situation. The NHS is not the only healthcare system in the world that works!

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