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Labour announces £26 billion NHS 'rescue plan' as health service remains a priority for General Election voters

Ask anyone what they care about most when it comes to a general election and more often than not the answer is the NHS.

It's quite reassuring then, in the midst of Brexit, it still appears to be at the forefront of people's minds and each party has given it some serious thought.

Labour was the first out of the blocks to announce its plans for the service and it's given analysts a lot to chew over.

The first point to make is that Labour is committing more money than the Conservatives: £6 billion more per year by 2023/24.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and Jeremy Corbyn visit a hospital. Credit: PA

The party have said the money will be used to recruit more staff, improve mental health care, buy new facilities and bring back the student bursary for nurses.

It will be funded by reversing the corporation tax cut and taxing higher earners.

Overall it's a large sum of money and will take the annual budget to £155 billion.

In broad terms the policy has been welcomed - those from the Kings Fund, the IFS, the Nuffield Trust and NHS Confederation have all said it's needed and will make a difference to the service.

It's a 4.3% rise and analysts have always said the NHS needs at least a 4% rise in order to continue to meet future demand.

It meets that requirement and outstrips the rise of 3.4% the Conservatives have pledged for the same period.

The NHS is a key focus of the main political parties in the election campaign. Credit: PA

But, and there's always a but, in order to transform the health service, which is what Labour claim to want to do, analysts insist much more money is needed.

Don't forget that the previous Labour government under Gordon Brown increased spending by around 6% per year.

For the last nine years funding has flat-lined and it needs some catching up.

If it wants to make waves, why doesn't Labour match spending commitments under Mr Brown?

The Conservatives are predictably pointing out holes in Labour's plans.

They say if the party were to introduce a 32-hour working week (one of their flagship policies), all the extra cash will be needed to pay the wages of extra staff to cover those who are working fewer hours.

It's a serious point but one the party has dismissed.

I asked the shadow chancellor how he could invest more money in the NHS as well as offering staff to work less?

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said a 32-hour working week would lead to increased productivity. Credit: PA

His answer is complex, but essentially he told me it won't come in for at least 10 years and increased productivity would boost the economy and allow them to afford a four-day week.

Wednesday was Labour's NHS day.

We will hear in the coming days their plans for social care and of course the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will also announce their plans for the health service.

There will be claims and counter claims about who has the best and most comprehensive plans, but with the winter crisis beginning to ramp up on the ground in hospitals, whoever wins the argument will have to start implementing something, and soon.