• Labour official manifesto softens party stance on sustainability and transformation plans
  • The party now plans to halt and review the STPs instead of simply halting them as set out in the leaked manifesto which was published last week
  • The new manifesto, published today, also sets out the Labour Party’s vision of a new National Care Service

Labour has softened two of its key manifesto pledges relating to sustainability and transformation plans, watering down the involvement of patients in rewriting them and suggesting the process will be reviewed, rather than simply stopped.

The final version of the manifesto appears to water down the hardline stance it took in a draft version leaked last week.

The official document, published today, says: “Labour will halt and review the NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’, which are looking at closing health services across England.

Last week’s leaked version simply said a Labour government would “halt” STPs.

On the involvement of patients, the party has also today pledged to “ask local people to participate in the redrawing of plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances”.

The leaked version said that if elected Labour would “ask local health groups to redraw the plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances.”

However, King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said even the more moderate proposals in the final version could hold back reconfiguration.

He added: “The proposal to halt STPs risks holding back essential changes to services.

“Labour is right that there has so far not been nearly enough engagement with the public and patients and this needs to happen, but where the case for change has been made politicians should not stand in the way.”

While much of the newly published manifesto remains the same as the leaked draft, new health pledges include:

  • Implementing a soft drinks industry levy, commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’;
  • Repealing the Health and Social Care Act and making the NHS the preferred provider; and
  • Significantly reducing infant deaths and ensuring all families who lose a baby receive appropriate bereavement support.

The manifesto includes policies already announced such as increasing NHS staff pay and free car parking across the NHS.

It also sets out how it will set up a National Care Service, which will be “built alongside the NHS with a shared requirement for single commissioning, partnership arrangements, pooled budgets and joint working arrangements”.

Labour said the new service will require an additional £3bn every year and will:

  • Place a maximum limit on lifetime personal contributions to care costs;
  • Raise the asset threshold below which people are entitled to state support; and
  • Provide free end of life care

The manifesto said the party will seek cross party consensus on how it should be funded, but suggested wealth tax, an employer care contribution or new social levy.