LABOUR has pledged to outspend the Tories by investing an additional £26 billion a year in health care to “rebuild” the NHS by replacing crumbling hospitals and improving patient care.

The move, which is £6bn more than the Conservatives are pledging, would result in a knock-on annual £2bn-plus windfall for the Scottish Government to spend on its priorities.

In a keynote speech, John McDonnell said his party was offering an annual average 4.3 per cent real-terms increase in health spending over the next four years, which would be used to drive down waiting times and drive up performance.

The Shadow Chancellor claimed the Tories were only proposing to spend 3.3 per cent extra a year, accusing Boris Johnson's party of making "weak commitments," which reflected their "hostility to free public services".

But Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, hit back, claiming Labour's plan for a four-day week would cost the NHS a fortune and said the Tories would "always ensure the NHS is there for you and your family".

Announcing the plans alongside Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow UK Health Secretary, Mr McDonnell said a Labour Government would take the total Department of Health and Social Care budget to £178bn in 2023-24.

"On each of these fronts, the Tories have offered weak commitments, reflecting their hostility to free public services and the need for us to care for each other," he told a Labour campaign event in London.

Noting how the country appeared to be on course for "the worst winter the NHS has ever endured," the Shadow Chancellor declared: "The NHS is in crisis under the Tories. Labour is the party of the NHS. We are the creators of that jewel in our crown."

Mr Ashworth said the investment plans, which were "more than the Tories are offering", would mean an increase in funding for primary and secondary care services.

"We will invest more to relentlessly drive up performance and drive down waiting times. We are determined to see expected standards of care enshrined in the NHS constitution met...

"Patients should not be told they have to wait longer and longer in pain and distress as they are under the Tories, especially cancer patients when we know cancer waits for no-one.

"Long waits risk a person's health deteriorating further. It is shameful," he insisted.

The Shadow Secretary of State said the NHS would be "literally rebuilt under a Labour government" as he pledged to commit an additional £15 billion capital investment to rebuild "crumbling hospitals".

He explained: "Overall, NHS capital expenditure - budgets that have been cut under the Tories and raided - will increase to meet the OECD average and it will be done through public investment.

"That will mean an extra £15bn capital investment to rebuild crumbling hospitals and invest in the cutting-edge medical technology of the future.

"Years of Tory cuts to capital budgets have left our NHS with a £6.5bn repair bill; we will clear the maintenance backlog. The NHS will be literally rebuilt under a Labour government," Mr Ashworth insisted.

But the Liberal Democrats said the announcement "misses the point" as Brexit had "already cost the economy as much as £66bn".

"If Corbyn had not tacitly supported Brexit, Labour could have funded their NHS plan more than two times over," Lucian Berger, the party's health spokeswoman, claimed.

However, Nigel Edwards, the Nuffield Trust Chief Executive, said the funding would mean the NHS could "breathe a sigh of relief", adding: "A four per cent increase a year will make a big difference compared to the 1.4 per cent average the NHS has grown used to in recent years."

Richard Murray, head of The King's Fund, commented: "The success of any NHS funding policy will rest on the ability to recruit and retain enough workers to staff NHS services.

"Labour's pledge to reinstate a training bursary for nurses is welcome although it will be critical to focus on retaining existing NHS staff over the next few years, at a time when many are leaving the service due to the intensity of their workload."

Dame Donna Kinnair, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said all parties needed to commit to investing in nursing, adding: "No matter how people voted in the EU referendum, nobody wants the NHS left open to a carve-up as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal.

"Brexit chaos and rows about deals cannot become a distraction from solving the mounting nurse shortage at home."