Jeremy Corbyn has told Sky News Theresa May’s “birthday present” funding pledge for the NHS will not tackle the immediate funding crisis.
The Labour leader’s criticism come after the prime minister promised to boost the health service with an extra £20bn a year in real-terms funding (once inflation is taken into account) by 2024, an average increase of 3.4% every year on the £114bn budget for the next five years.
However, this still falls short of the 3.7% increases the NHS has previously received.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge, Mr Corbyn insisted that Labour would put “far more money in straight away” to deal with the NHS funding problems.
“Nothing she [Theresa May] has promised means any money this year… and it’s only 0.1% above what the IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] says is necessary for the NHS to stand still.
“We said we would put in 5% more in the first year to deal with the immediate crisis, particularly in hospital waiting lists and social care.
“What Theresa May has promised doesn’t actually make any difference whatsoever… now, this winter, this financial year.
“What she is promising over five years is 0.1% above the standstill budget. We would offer 2% above… and we would put the money into the NHS which is necessary for it.”
As the NHS is poised to celebrate its 70th birthday, the Labour leader claimed Conservative cost-cutting is killing people.
“Austerity costs lives,” he told Ridge.
“The health inequalities in Britain are massive. Take Scotland for example, the richest and best off and healthiest in Scotland live 26 years longer than the poorest of those in worse health. That cannot be acceptable.”
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to the NHS as it turns 70 on Thursday.
“Seventieth birthday NHS – absolutely brilliant, and I think we should thank all those that founded it and the inspiration that came from working-class communities in South Wales and other places.
“Health is about mental health, social care, stress, and environmental and public health… I want to see the NHS properly funded and an end to privatisation within the NHS.”
On Wednesday, you can watch a special hour-long live debate on the future of the NHS presented by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News.