ED MILIBAND warned that the NHS was facing “its most perilous moment in a generation” as he set out a 10 year plan to “rescue” the health service today.
The plan, which will be at the heart of Labour’s campaign for the general election, includes investing billions of pounds raised from tobacco companies and the mansion tax to recruit 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 GPs and an extra 10,000 nurse training places, join health and social care services and guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within a week.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham also pledged to put an end to the culture of 15-minute visits to frail and isolated older people by home helps employed on “exploitative” zero-hour contracts
New home safety visits for people at risk of hospitalisation would provide help such as grip rails to prevent falls, and 5,000 NHS homecare workers would be tasked with helping those with the greatest need, including patients leaving hospital who need assistance to move back into their homes and terminally-ill patients who want to spend their last days at home with their families.
Mr Miliband said: “The central idea is this: that we must both invest in the NHS so it has time to care and join up services at every stage from home to hospital, so you can get the care you need, where you need it.
“That is the key principle to make our NHS sustainable and successful for years to come.”
Speaking in Trafford, Greater Manchester, where the first NHS hospital was opened in 1948, the Labour leader warned a Conservative victory on May 7 would mean further fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS.
He said: “David Cameron just won’t put the right resources into our NHS and he puts the wrong values at the heart of our NHS. When you look at his record for the last five years and his plan for the next five years, you know David Cameron can’t be trusted with our NHS.”
But Mr Cameron said voters should look at Labour’s record in Wales, where the party runs the NHS, rather than accepting Mr Miliband’s “rhetoric”.
Mr Cameron said: “In Wales, where Labour are running the NHS, they cut the NHS and, as a result, waiting lists are longer, the problems at A&E are worse, they don’t have the cancer drugs fund that we have in England.
“The real choice at this election is between the competence of continuing with a long-term economic plan that is working with the Conservatives, or the chaos of going back with Labour and the borrowing and spending and taxing and all the things that got us into this mess in the first place.”
Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb said it would protect the future of the NHS by increasing spending by £8 billion a year by 2020.
He added: “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.”
While the back biting ramped up with less than 100 days to go before polls open, a survey by ComRes suggested the NHS was deemed a higher priority for voters than the economy.
Of 1,001 adults surveyed, 59 per cent said policy on the NHS would influence their voting decision more than economic policy.