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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

An NHS equal to the challenges of the 21st century

Ed Miliband will today warn that the NHS, which Labour say is "one of Britain's most precious institutions", faces "its most perilous moment" when voters go to the polls at a General Election now just 100 days away. Mr Miliband will say the next government must rescue the health service from a Tory plan that has already caused crisis over the past five years - and now, if the Conservatives win a second term, threatens to leave it unrecognisable.

Speaking immediately before Andy Burnham reveals Labour's 10-year plan for the NHS, Mr Miliband will herald it as a blueprint to raise standards of care and ensure the health service is sustainable in the 21st century. Speaking in Trafford, where the first NHS hospital was opened in 1948, he will unveil Labour's third pledge to the British people: "Build an NHS with the time to care: 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. Join up services from home to hospital, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week."

He will commit the next government to restoring the right values to the NHS, making strategic investments in staff, and delivering reforms that will improve services and save billions of pounds. These include integrating care, placing a new emphasis on prevention, and ensuring better access to services - so patients do not end up in hospital unless they need it. He will say Labour is determined to drive out the culture of limiting social care at home for frail, older and vulnerable to just 15 minutes, saying it is a symbol of what has gone wrong in the NHS where failure and false economies threaten the financial future of the service.

And he will outline how Labour's 10-Year plan will:
  • Invest in staff so the NHS has time to care
  • Integrate care from home to hospital
  • Give patients new rights to access care
  • End the neglect of mental health
  • Prevent ill-health 
  • Restore the right values to the NHS

Immediately after Mr Miliband has launched Labour's election pledge, Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, will deliver a further speech in London to the King's Fund where he will set out more details of Labour's plan for the NHS. Mr Burnham will say false economies in social care have increased pressure on NHS funding with the number of avoidable hospital admissions soaring last year to a record high of more than half a million - costing the NHS around £1 billion.

He will explain how:
  • Labour's plan to integrate services from home to hospital will help end 15-minute care slots through new year-of-care budgets, incentivising providers to improve social care and prevent vulnerable patients falling ill or injuring themselves.
  • The next government will create a new arm of the NHS: 5,000 homecare workers within the NHS to help those with the greatest needs, including the terminally ill so they can stay with their family at the end of life, and those who are leaving hospital who need extra help if they are to move back into their homes.
  • All vulnerable older people would be offered a safety check to identify risks to their health like cold homes, loneliness and the likelihood of them falling so that problems can be tackled and they avoid unnecessary hospital visits.

In response to Labour's plans for the NHS, Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb MP said: "Only the Liberal Democrats can deliver the stronger economy and fairer society needed to protect the future of the NHS. Labour want to airbrush their record in Government but the facts speak for themselves: a quarter of a billion pounds spent on sweetheart deals with private providers and PFI deals that will cost us all £11.7bn in the next Parliament alone. The Liberal Democrats have set out our plans to increase NHS spending by £8bn per year by 2020, and explained how we will pay for it. Labour have failed to match this promise of investment. On the other hand the Conservatives have also failed to commit to this investment and their plan to balance the deficit through nothing but cuts will risk our public services."

Also commenting on Ed Miliband's speech a Conservative spokesman said: "We know Ed Miliband says in private he needs to "weaponise" the NHS for political gain. But he has no economic plan, and so would bring back economic chaos to Britain - putting our NHS at risk. Greece was forced to slash its health budget by 14 per cent - because like Ed Miliband, it forgot about the deficit. He has now said Labour would spend the same family homes' tax revenue three times over on three different things - and it would raise nowhere near enough for what he has promised. Only by sticking to our long-term economic plan will we build a stronger economy, meaning a stronger NHS."