More than 2,000 new nurses will be hired across Yorkshire as Labour promises to help hospitals recruit local carers.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, has said he will use some of the income from a mansion tax and a levy on tobacco firms to bring in 20,000 new nurses, across the UK, with a commitment that the three Northern regions will benefit from some 6,600 extra staff.
Mr Burnham said the additional nursing staff were needed to help cope with a £2bn agency staff bill now facing the NHS as a result of redundancies and budget cuts.
The MP said he was particularly keen on ensuring that some of the new staff are allocated to work with ambulance crews, in a bid to help elderly rural patients receive hospital-preventing treatment at home.
“The bill for agency staff is too high, and we are now unable to recruit home-grown staff at the moment,” Mr Burnham said.
“Alongside that there have been training places cut in pretty much every year of the parliament, leaving the NHS with a real problem.”
“I want to send a very clear message to carers in each region that there are opportunities for them to come and work in the NHS, to help rebuild the NHS.”
Mr Burnham said the nurses, worth around £800m of the £2.1bn extra the Labour party has promised the NHS, formed part of a wider care at home focus. He added: “There are some real challenges in the ambulance service, particularly in rural areas.
“We want ambulance services in the more rural parts of the country to employ some of these new members of staff, because the idea has to be if you can help the ambulance service support people in their own homes, that has to be a better way of dealing with things rather than using the ambulance service for routine hospital trips.”
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, a key parliamentary aide to the health secretary, said the Government had already provided hundreds of extra NHS staff for Yorkshire.
Mr Jones said: “There are now almost 600 more nurses, midwives and health visitors in Yorkshire and the Humber just last year providing safer, more compassionate patient care.
“That’s only possible because we’ve taken tough decisions to grow the economy, allowing us to invest £12.7bn extra in the NHS over the course of this Parliament. We’re proud of that record of delivery – whereas even the shadow Chancellor has said that Labour’s mansion tax won’t raise a penny next year, so Labour plans won’t help frontline NHS workers.”
The proposals come after Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for councils in Manchester to gain control of £5bn worth of NHS funds, a move Mr Osborne said would be repeated elsewhere as part of the Government’s devolution plans.
Mr Burnham said: “This is devolving a funding crisis. A case of here’s your money, you are on your own. That’s not an attractive deal. I wouldn’t be doing it this way.”