LONDON (Labour Buzz) - The pledge was woolly from the off, with no date given for the recruitment or clarity over whether they’d be full or part-time staff. It later emerged that 18,500 would be staff that the Tories aim to be able to retain and that 12,000 would be from overseas.
The Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The Conservative’s claim on nurses is frankly deceitful – the sums simply don’t add up. First, we had Johnson’s fake 40 new hospitals, now we have his fake 50,000 extra nurses.”
The vow to improve NHS staffing was intended to be the centrepiece of a manifesto from a government who have faced criticism for placing the NHS on the table when negotiating a trade deal with the United States. Instead it has served to highlight the way the Tories are prepared to callously use mistruths about the NSH in order to garner votes.
The Conservatives spending document states that policy to retain, recruit and train nurses for the NHS in England will cost £879 million in 2023/24. Although, it’s not clear how this has been calculated, according to independent fact checking charity, fullfact.org, these figures fail to add up. Independent analysts estimate that once you add up salaries and additional overheads, a band 5 nurse may cost around £53,000 a year to employ, not including recruitment and training costs. Even without adding training costs, as a very rough indication, 50,000 nurses at pay band 5 cost the NHS in the region of £2.8 billion a year.
Nurses are desperately needed as over the past decade the number of nurses per person has fallen. According to fullfact.org in August 2010 there were 5.15 nurses per 1,000 people in England and in August 2019 there were around 4.98. Some sectors have been particularly hard hit with mental health nurses and learning disability nurses having seen their numbers fall over the last decade.
The already widely discredited claim to build ‘40 new hospitals’ does not appear to be costed in this manifesto, as most of them are not intended to be built during the next parliament. £2.7 billion was committed in September this year to upgrade six existing hospitals, while the remaining hospitals were allocated £100 million to develop plans for upgrades. There is no money yet for any actual building work on these, making it another false claim. The Tories would also be required to win at least two more general elections to fulfil their empty promise.
The NHS was not the only area to be targeted for Tory lies. Even Boris’ repeated ad-nauseam commitment to ‘get Brexit done’ fails to reflect reality. Even if the Conservatives win the election and his deal passes, negotiations with the EU on a future trade deal would continue to take place during a transition period. The Tories claim this period will last no longer than the duration of 2020, but this has been widely dismissed as overly optimistic. During this time the UK will still follow EU rules and pay money into the EU budget, meaning that Brexit is far from “a deal that is pre-cooked, ready to go.”
The subject of policing was also ripe for manipulation tactics by the Tories, with them claiming to return policing levels to almost those of a decade ago, by “putting 20,000 more officers on the streets.” However, due to population increase, recruiting another 20,000 police officers would leave the number of police officers per person 8% lower than it was in 2010. As with the nursing figures the sums simply don’t add up.
(Written by Kirsty-Anne Jasper, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)