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Response to Labour’s NHS pledge

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group, response to Labour’s NHS pledge


Yesterday, the Labour Party pledged to clear the 18-week-plus NHS waiting lists backlog within five years. If they win the general election, they promise to create 40,000 extra appointments, scans and operations a week during their first year. Their plan includes extending NHS services to evenings and weekends, as well as clearing up NHS capacities by making greater use of the private sector.

Responding to Labour’s pledge, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group, said, 

“Wes Streeting is right, the health of the nation is linked to the health of the economy. But after decades of underfunding, austerity and a pandemic, we must first invest in our health if we are to have any chance of building a strong economy.”

“Our NHS is facing severe pressures, which disproportionately affects women as patients, workers and unpaid carers. There are 7.5 million people stuck on waiting lists for consultant-led care, waiting times for Gynaecology have soared by 109% since 2020, and although they have a longer life expectancy, women are more likely than men to experience ill-health and require health services.”

“The UK labour force is getting increasingly sicker. A record-high 2.8 million people are out of the workforce due to long-term sickness, 1.5 million of them are women – that’s over 200,000 more than men. Long-term sickness has replaced caring responsibilities as the  top reason why women are out of the labour force.”

“The continuous underfunding of the NHS has exacerbated existing health inequalities for marginalised groups including disabled women, migrant women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic women and the LGBT community. For example, we know that Black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than White women.”

“With nearly 80% of the NHS workforce being women, the crisis of our health services also significantly impacts them as workers. So any plan to bring down waiting lists by extending evening and weekend services must come hand in hand with an effective early education and childcare strategy.”

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