Ed Miliband will today publish a plan for immediate action to tackle the crisis in our A&E departments that the Tories have created. Mr Miliband's proposals are below:
1. Help families get to see a GP:
The Government scrapped Labour's 48 hour GP access guarantee - leaving one in four patients now waiting a week or more. In desperation, many turn to A&E piling on pressure to hospitals and increasing the cost of the NHS.
Immediate action - We would get GP practices linked up to share spare appointment slots and encourage local areas to place GPs in major A&Es to ease the pressure by helping with non-emergency patients. And we would get on with restoring the guarantee of an appointment in 48 hours - or on the same day if you need it
2. Get more nurses answering calls to NHS 111:
The destruction of NHS Direct was another short-sighted act of vandalism which is driving patients into A & E and forcing up costs. The Government's new NHS 111 helpline relies heavily on call handlers who've only had a few weeks of training and a 'computer says go to A&E' approach.
Immediate action - we would deploy more clinically-trained staff to handle NHS 111 calls to provide better medical advice and reduce numbers directed to A&E.
3. Halt the closures of walk-in centres:
Labour created over 230 walk-in centres. The Tories have closed almost a quarter of them, piling the pressure on A&E and increasing costs.
Immediate action - we would halt any further closures of Walk-In-Centres
4. Tackle scandal of failing social care:
The Tories' cuts mean 300,000 fewer elderly people get care, and many others are having to rely on care slots limited to 15 minutes, and this is driving more into A & E and preventing others from being discharged, increasing costs.
Immediate action - we would get councils, the NHS and local voluntary sector organisations working together to identify people at highest risk of hospital admission - then link them up with support. We would also identify more care places in local communities to help hospitals reduce delayed discharges.
5. Recruit former nurses back into practice to help stem the crisis:
The Tories cut training places and now half of all nurses in NHS say
their ward is dangerously understaffed and hospitals don't have time to care.
Immediate action - we would launch an immediate campaign to encourage nurses to return to practice and encourage others to stay in service. And we'd reverse the cuts in nurse training to ensure we bring on the next generation and get the right numbers coming through in future too.
On announcing his plan Ed Miliband is expected to say:"The Tories want to blame the patients - but the NHS is in crisis because of decisions made by David Cameron. His Government has made it harder for families to see a GP while cuts in social care have left vulnerable and elderly people at risk. Clearing up this mess will require the long term investment only Labour is prepared to make - 8,000 extra GPs, 5,000 more homecare workers, 3,000 more midwives and 20,000 additional nurses. But the scale of the current crisis also demands immediate action."
"If I was Prime Minister we would be taking action now to ease pressure on A & E by helping families see a GP, getting more nurses answering calls to NHS 111, halting the closures of walk-in centres, tackling the scandal of social care, and recruiting former nurses back into the NHS to help deal with staffing pressures." Mr Miliband is expected to add.