DAVID CAMERON will promise the NHS is safe in Conservative hands today as he attempts to shrug off growing concern about the state of hospital finances.
In his first major speech since being returned to power, the Prime Minister will hold up the health service as a prime example of the ‘one nation’ United Kingdom he promised to create on the steps of Downing Street after winning the general election.
He will also pledge to meet his campaign commitment to create a truly seven-day service despite 10 of Yorkshire’s 15 NHS trusts already forecasting they will end the current financial year in the red.
Mr Cameron will describe figures suggesting that the death-rate for patients admitted to hospitals on Sunday is up to 16 per cent higher than those who arrive during the week as “shocking”.
He will say: “There is nothing that embodies the spirit of One Nation coming together – nothing that working people depend on more – than the NHS. Our commitment to free healthcare for everyone - wherever you are and whenever you need it.
“That means getting the best care and making that care available for everyone – free - wherever they are and whenever they need it.
“So I believe that together – by sticking to the plan – we can become the first country in the world to deliver a truly seven -day NHS.
“And we must do so to protect and preserve the values of the NHS that are so central to our national identity.
“To keep our people healthy, to look after them when they fall ill, to care for the elderly with dignity and to ensure that free healthcare is always there whenever people need it most.”
Mr Cameron will speak at a GP centre that already offers patients weekend and late night appointments and argue that making the health service more flexible will save lives.
He will also move to reassure doctors and nurses the Government’s seven day NHS plans will not involve longer working hours but admit they will need to be more flexible.
“By sticking to the plan we can and will achieve this together,” he will say.
“A seven-day NHS, safe in our hands – for every generation to come.”
Labour attempted to make the future of the NHS a key dividing line between the major parties during the election campaign and claimed the Conservatives were intent on significantly increasing the role of private companies.
But they were outflanked by a surprise commitment from the Conservatives to increase health service funding by £8 billion a year, the amount identified as needed by NHS England head Simon Stevens.
George Osborne has yet to set out how the Government will pay for the commitment and he will be under pressure to offer more detail in his July Budget.
Analysis by The Yorkshire Post suggests that NHS trusts in the region are on track to be £100 million in debt by the end of the financial year in March.