politics

Corbyn Demands Emergency Budget to End U.K. Winter Health Crisis

  • NHS statistics show 116,000 patients waited in ambulances
  • Labour leader seeking to tap into public and Tory discontent
Jeremy Corbyn Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Theresa May should introduce an emergency budget to plow more funds into the U.K.’s ailing National Health Service, opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn will say on Thursday evening as he ratchets up pressure on the premier over health care funding.

Speaking at a rally in London alongside his party’s health spokesman, Jonathan Ashworth, Corbyn will draw attention to NHS statistics showing more than 116,000 patients have had to wait in the back of an ambulance for more than half an hour so far this winter.

“The government is failing staff, patients and their families across the whole country,” Corbyn will say, according to a statement emailed by his office. “We simply can’t go on like this. The Government must bring forward an emergency budget for the NHS to give it the money it needs and end this crisis.

Emboldened by last year’s general election, in which Labour gained 30 seats and stripped May of her majority, Corbyn is using his strongest suit to gain ground on her: polls consistently show the electorate trust Labour over May’s Conservatives on health care policy. At the three weekly parliamentary sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions held since the Christmas recess ended, 12 of 18 of Corbyn’s questions to May have been about the NHS.

“Having ignored repeated warnings from Labour, health care professionals and the public for urgent NHS funding this winter, Theresa May has overseen the worst winter crisis on record,” Ashworth will say. “Under the Tories, our NHS has been left underfunded, understaffed and overstretched.”

Corbyn is also tapping into discontent in the Tory Party over NHS spending. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has pressed May to spend an extra 5.2 billion pounds ($7.4 billion) a year on the free public health service to deliver on promises made by Brexit campaigners in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. While May campaigned to remain in the union, Johnson campaigned to leave the bloc,  telling voters the U.K. could afford to allocate an extra 350 million pounds a week.

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