POLITICS
12/06/2018 08:02 BST | Updated 12/06/2018 09:50 BST

Labour Sets Theresa May Five Key Tests To Future-Proof The NHS

The NHS turns 70 this July.

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Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has set Theresa May five key tests to future-proof the NHS 

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has set Theresa May five tests to future-proof the NHS as the 70th anniversary of the health service approaches. 

In a blog for HuffPost UK, Ashworth demanded a 5% cash increase to fully fund the NHS, as he underlined that NHS Trusts ended 2017/18 with a deficit of £960 million and a £5 billion backlog for repairs. 

He called for the Prime Minister to put forward a “credible plan” to end staffing shortages and abandon what he described as the “restrictive ‘hostile environment’ visa regime, currently denying so many hospitals access to the very best international clinical staff”. 

Ashworth demanded that the Government speed up the integration of health and social care, saying the PM must “end fragmentation, end privatisation and instead move towards genuine integration”. 

The Labour MP also said that the health secretary must set out a plan to invest in NHS infrastructure to “renew existing equipment and ensure we access the innovative technologies of the future”. 

Ministers must also urgently attack health inequalities, Ashworth added finally, saying “it should shame us” that life expectancy has stalled in deprived areas, air quality is damaging health and child poverty stubbornly remains in 2018 UK.  

However he said he feared that the 70th anniversary of the NHS was being treated by the government as a “public relations obstacle to overcome”. 

“The NHS and social care stands at a critical juncture,” Ashworth added, saying a “quick fix or fudge won’t do”. 

His comments come after health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested that the NHS will receive a “significant increase” in long-term spending to mark its 70th birthday this July.

Hunt - who recently became the longest-serving health secretary - has demanded a 4%-a-year budget increase for the NHS, despite reports that chancellor Philip Hammond wants to cap the annual rise at 2.5%. 

“Jeremy Hunt has raised expectations hugely,” the Labour MP added. “Let’s see if he can deliver.” 

In March, Theresa May signalled that the government would back the first ever long-term funding plan for the NHS, saying she recognised “serious cost and demand pressures” on the health service and that a “multi-year” plan was on the cards. 

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee that the government would draw up a blueprint that allows the NHS “to plan for the future” ahead of the 2019 spending review. 

The Department for Health has yet to respond to HuffPost UK’s request for comment.