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Sun, 29 March 2020

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Labour accuses Boris Johnson of 'deceit' over 50,000 extra nurses pledge

Labour accuses Boris Johnson of 'deceit' over 50,000 extra nurses pledge
3 min read

Boris Johnson has been accused of "deceit" after he claimed a Conservative government would make sure there were 50,000 more nurses in the NHS.


The Prime Minister made the claim as he unveiled his party's general election manifesto.

On the first page of the 64-page document, Mr Johnson says: "I guarantee extra funding for the NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year."

But it later became clear that the figure included the retention of 18,500 nurses who are already in the health service.

The Tories claim that another 12,000 will come from abroad, 14,000 will be undergraduate students and 5,000 will be degree-level apprenticeships.

To help meet the target, the party has also pledged to introduce an annual maintenance grant worth up to £8,000 a year for nursing students.

Sources close to Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted that without the Tory measures, thousands of nurses would leave the NHS.

But Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "The Conservatives’ 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.

"Matt Hancock and Tory ministers forced through the abolition of the bursary partly causing the nursing crisis afflicting our NHS today. The new damaging Tory nurses’ tax on European nurses will make it impossible to deliver the nurses our NHS needs.”

"Labour will deliver over 50,000 new nurses through bringing back the bursary and allowing ethical international recruitment."

The nursing pledge was one of the few new announcements in a manifesto notably lacking in detailed policy commitments.

In an attempt to contrast the Tories with Labour, the 64-page document included a commitment not to increase income tax, VAT or National Insurance.

Overall, the Conservatives pledge to spend an extra £10bn on day-to-day spending over the next five years, compared to Labour's plans for £83bn of increased expenditure.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies think tank, said: "If the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos were notable for the scale of their ambitions the Conservative one is not.

"If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest. As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable."

On the Tories' pledge to freeze taxes, Mr Johnson said: "That’s a constraint the Chancellor may come to regret.

"It is also part of a fundamentally damaging narrative – that we can have the public services we want, with more money for health and pensions and schools – without paying for them. We can’t."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Boris Johnson has launched a manifesto for billionaires. They bought it and you’ll pay for it.

"After a decade of the Conservatives cutting our NHS, police and schools, all Boris Johnson is offering is more of the same: more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty."

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