Hospitals in England need 74,000 more beds if the NHS is to catch up with healthcare systems in other wealthy European countries, new research shows.
The TUC analysis, which found that England has just 2.4 beds per 1,000 people compared to 3.7 beds in the leading 15 European nations, comes a day before tens of thousands gather in central London to mark the NHS’ 70th birthday.
The research found that annual Department of Health budgets need to increase by 4 per cent just to maintain the NHS at its current level, while to keep up with leading European countries an additional 5 per cent is required.
The findings will be an embarrassment for Prime Minister Theresa May, who last week boasted about a hollow Tory commitment to a “world-class” NHS after announcing a 3.4 per cent funding increase for the health service.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said, “Years of Tory funding cuts mean the NHS is suffering from chronic bed and staff shortages. The NHS once led the world for healthcare, and still can, but it needs proper investment.
’70th birthday present’?
“Theresa May is hoping she can plaster over nearly a decade of Tory neglect towards the NHS and its staff with her recent funding announcement. But her so-called ‘70th birthday present’ of a 3.4 per cent rise is not enough and will only just prevent the serious damage her party have inflicted on the health service getting worse.
“All authoritative independent analysis in recent years shows the NHS needs a 4 per cent increase at the very least – and if we are to catch up with other countries it needs to be more than that.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the health service remains on the “critical list”, saying the “best medicine for the NHS is giving it the extra funding it needs”.
Tomorrow up to 100,000 people are expected to converge on London to mark 70 years since the NHS was founded.
Demonstrators will march to Downing Street to demand the government bring the NHS back to health, as well as hearing from a range of speakers including Unite paramedic Debbie Wilkinson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “This is the 70th anniversary of the greatest thing we have ever achieved here in Britain – the National Health Service.
“This is our NHS, let’s get out on the streets and defend it.”
For more information about joining the #OurNHS70 celebrations click here.