Sunday, December 10

NHS facing huge danger – Miliband



TV cook Delia Smith will join Ed Miliband on the campaign trail today as he warns the NHS is in “huge danger” and tells voters its future is the big choice at the election.

The Opposition leader will accuse Prime Minister David Cameron of planning a drive for more privatisation of the health service if he is returned to No 10.

Labour will call on the Conservatives to “come clean” over their plans for the NHS as the party highlights a report on health service reform by former Marks and Spencer boss Stuart Rose, now a Conservative peer, that has been left unpublished.

Smith is joining Mr Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls on a campaign visit in Brighton to back the party because of her concerns about the future of the NHS, according to Labour.

Mr Miliband is expected to say: “In the final few days of this General Election, the future of the NHS is at risk in the way it hasn’t been for a generation.

“We know that if David Cameron wins a second term there will be a drive for more privatisation, more broken promises and more people waiting longer for treatment.

“In this election, you have the chance to put the NHS first by voting Labour on Thursday. There is no bigger choice at this election than the future direction of our National Health Service, the bedrock of security for so many working people in our country.

“But our NHS is in huge danger. It’s fighting for its life because of choices this Government has made. We’ve got people queuing out the doors of GPs’ surgeries, unable to see a doctor, one million people last year waiting over four hours in A&E, seriously ill people lying on trolleys in corridors for hours on end, we’ve even seen a treatment tent put up in a hospital car park.

“David Cameron calls his record a success. It’s not a success. It’s a disgrace.

“I know what makes the NHS strong: care, compassion and co-operation, not privatisation, fragmentation and competition.

“So in our first 100 days we’ll put before Parliament a bill to repeal the Tories’ terrible Health and Social Care Act, stopping the drive towards privatisation. And where private companies are involved in delivering NHS-funded clinical services, we will cap the profits they can take out of the public purse.

“This is part of Labour’s better plan for a better NHS, a plan that prepares our National Health Service for the challenges of the future, a fully-funded plan that’s built on solid foundations, a plan that can give our health service the time to care and give Britain the NHS we want: an NHS with people at its heart, an NHS that inspires the country; an NHS that will once again lead the world.”

Smith said: “What I believe profoundly is the party that campaigned for and created the NHS will be the best one to nurture and sustain it for the future.

“We cannot afford to allow it to fall into the wrong hands. And we cannot afford to see the NHS privatised or run like a supermarket. That would be a recipe for disaster.”

The future of the NHS has been at the centre of the election campaign as the parties seek to convince voters they will protect it.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have pledged they will find the £8 billion health chiefs say is needed by 2020 to prevent it buckling.

Labour has refused to commit to providing the same amount but insists it will do “what is necessary” and says its £2.5 billion spending plans are the only fully-funded proposals put forward so far. It claims the Tories want to open up the service to greater privatisation.

Lord Rose was asked to lead a review into how to improve management in the NHS in England last year and reported back to the coalition but his findings have yet to be published.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: “Before the last election, David Cameron promised no top-down reorganisation of the NHS and then embarked on the biggest ever, which wasted £3 billion.

“David Cameron should come clean with the British people about his plans for the NHS after the election. He commissioned a major report on how to change the way the health service is run but has buried the findings.

“They won’t tell us what’s in it. They won’t tell us what they plan to do with it. They won’t tell us what they plan to do with the NHS. But we do know one thing. We know who wrote it: the Conservative peer, Lord Rose.

“Lord Rose may be good at running supermarkets. But I say to David Cameron: you can’t run the NHS like a supermarket, we don’t want a supermarket health service, so publish this report and show us what is in your secret plan.

“Now we have heard a stark warning of the truth of a second Tory term: an American-style health service where you have to pay to be seen, from the people who know what one looks like.

“David Cameron legislated without the permission of the public to allow English hospitals to earn up to half their income from treating private patients. The longer his Act stays in place, the more our hospitals will become like US hospitals.”