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Labour would give more funding to primary care

Labour would give more funding to primary care
By Sofia Lind
15 June 2023

The shadow health secretary has indicated that the Labour Party may give general practice a larger percentage of NHS funding.

Speaking at the NHS Confed Expo conference on Wednesday, Wes Streeting said ‘primary care access and reform’ would be one of his three top priorities in government.

He said: ‘I just think that’s absolutely critical to the mission that we want to deliver… so I think that would be a big plank of our agenda.’

And he said that looking at current funding, too much is going towards acute trusts and too little to primary care and community services.

He reassured trusts that a Labour government would not immediately cut spending for hospitals upon election, but said that ‘over time’ they would need to think about where funding goes.

The shadow health secretary said: ‘‘Now, don’t worry acutes, we’re not going to say first day under a Labour government, we’ll just take a chunk of your budget and stick it elsewhere in the system. That would be a disaster. But I do think over time, we’ve got to think about where the proportion of funding goes.’

He also acknowledged that the ‘primary care estate’ was going to be ‘a challenge’ but said he would not make any promises regarding extra money for estates – which he may not be able to keep – while Labour is reviewing the state of the country’s finances.

Mr Streeting said the ‘fundamental’ thing he wants to ‘achieve’, is ‘that shift towards prevention, early intervention, early diagnosis, more focus on primary care, community services and social care’.

‘Because when you compare our health system to others… the reason why NHS performs less well isn’t because it is publicly funded and free at the point of use, it’s because look at where the money goes.

‘Acutes run almost top of the table, while primary care, mental health, community services, capital, diagnostics are either near the bottom or seriously lagging behind in terms of the investment.’

Labour also promised to make better use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies in order to bring the NHS ‘into the digital age’ and help relieve the workforce crisis.

Wes Streeting’s three priorities on ‘Day 1 as health secretary’

  1. Double the number of medical school places
  2. Primary care access and reform
  3. Social care reform

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