Today’s Brexit vote in parliament meant that our final speaker of day one, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth MP, was unable to attend conference in person, but instead sent a recorded message for delegates outlining Labour’s five key asks for the government’s long-term funding plan.
Jon thanked the NHS Confederation for commissioning the IFS and Health Foundation report on funding, saying it had “shaken the debate” on funding the NHS.
He shared his view on the current state of the NHS, which he deemed to be failing to meet constitutional standards, with the situation in 2002 under a Labour government, where he described record investment, low waiting lists and high patient satisfaction.
Anticipating the government’s upcoming settlement announcement, he set out the five tests that, if delivered, would satisfy the Labour party.
- Funding – asking if the government is prepared to take fair decisions on taxation, based on Labour’s promise of fair increases in tax to gain £9bn of extra funding.
- Capital investment – would the government increase this, as Labour promises to do in order to support the take-up and spread of innovation and the need for more updated medical equipment.
- Workforce – asking if the government has a credible plan to ensure the necessary staff for the future, referencing Labour’s plan to bring back the training bursary for nursing and AHP careers.
- Ending fragmentation and reducing competition and waste – Jon asked for a discussion from the government on what this would mean for the future NHS landscape.
- Tackling health inequalities – he cited a need to focus on prevention, and on children’s health and wellbeing. Reflecting Simon Stevens earlier in the day, the shadow health secretary called for the NHS 70th birthday celebrations to be a platform to prioritise children’s health and wellbeing.
With a few self-confessed “gentle criticisms” of the current government throughout his address, Jon ended by saying that the health secretary and the government have a chance to reset the trajectory of the last eight years, and how Labour, working with staff, can deliver this.
All the main stage sessions will be available shortly on our watch again page or you can read the round-up of day one