Labour puts NHS front row centre ahead of General Election

The Guardian reports that Labour is considering a “bold” announcement on NHS funding as part of its attempt to put the issue in the spotlight and capitalise on its strength in that area ahead of the General Election. In addition to the recently reported considerations of an increase in National Insurance contributions earmarked for the NHS, the Party is also discussing whether integration of health and social care, as well as reversal of the competition provisions of the Health and Social Care Act, will release sufficient funds.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has already ruled out a National Insurance increase and an inheritance tax to pay for integrated health and social care services (the latter proposed by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham) while a variety of other options are under examination, including “sin taxes” (e.g. tobacco and alcohol).

Meanwhile, polling by YouGov has shown that out of four areas tested (NHS, welfare benefits for poor families, state schools, and state pensions and social care for the elderly), the public only supports a tax increase for the NHS and only by a 3% margin (42-39%).

Elias from PSI: Labour are continuing their attempts to focus attention on the NHS ahead of the General Election, as the public is consistently giving them a lead on “most trusted to run the NHS”. It seems necessary for the Party to come up with a concrete proposal for addressing NHS funding issues, if they are to maintain their credibility in that area and avoid accusations of presenting ideas that are not properly costed.