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Labour: NHS Cannot Survive Five More Years Of David Cameron

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Labour Party Press Release:

Labour’s election chief tomorrow (Sunday) declares that the future of the health service will be on the ballot paper in May because the NHS as you know it cannot survive a second term of Tory-led government.

Douglas Alexander, the Chair of General Election Strategy, uses a State of the Race memorandum to mobilise party activists for a four-month campaign – beginning tomorrow – to save the NHS.

He is publishing a 27-page dossier revealing the scale of David Cameron’s broken promises to protect the NHS, setting out new projections for what five more years of Conservative government would mean, as well as underlining Labour’s plan to save and improve the health service.

In online posters being unveiled tomorrow (Sunday), Labour seizes on the fifth anniversary of David Cameron’s air-brushed advertising on the NHS to parody his claims before the last election and warn that a second-term Tory government would mean longer waiting times, spending levels back to where they were in the 1930s and more privatisation.

The dossier reveals that seven out of the 15 patients’ rights enshrined in the NHS constitution have been breached including those setting maximum waiting times of four hours at A&E, 62 days for cancer treatment, and six weeks for diagnostic tests.

If the NHS service standards continue to decline as they have under the Tories in the last four-and-a-half years, in 2020 the NHS would be course for:

  • Nearly 2 million people waiting longer than four hours at A&E
  • Waiting lists reaching 4 million
  • Ambulance response times reaching up to nine minutes
  • Over 20 million patients left waiting for a week or more to see a GP or unable to get one at all
  • More than half a million older people no longer getting access to social care services

The dossier shows how independent experts have questioned George Osborne’s proposal to cut public spending to levels not seen here since the 1930s when the NHS did not exist. Countries such as Mexico achieve such levels only because half their health care is privately funded – but to do so in the UK would require unfeasible measures such as the complete abolition of central funding for local government. And, in any case, cuts in other areas like social care will further increase pressure on the NHS.

The dossier warns that the Health and Social Care Act, which has opened up the NHS to the full force of competition law, is on course to double the scale of privatisation if left unchecked. On current trends the NHS is on course for over 4,000 private sector contracts being awarded over the next five years with up to £10bn of the NHS budget being spent on private providers.

The dossier shows how there is clear choice at the next election between a Tory second term that will threaten the future of the NHS as we know it and Labour’s plan to save the health service and improve it to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Labour’s plan would:

  • Create a £2.5 billion a year NHS Time to Care Fund to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more home care workers and 3,000 more. This is fully-funded and over and above baseline budgets.
  • Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and on the same day for those who need it.
  • Guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests and create a new Cancer Treatments Fund to improve access to drugs, radiotherapy and surgery.
  • Repeal David Cameron’s NHS Health & Social Care Act that puts private profit before patients, to ensure NHS professionals can focus on your care, not competition law.
  • Give patients and the public a say when changes to local services are proposed.
  • Bring together physical health, mental health and social care into a single service to meet all of a person’s care needs – whole-person care, built around patients.

In his memo tomorrow, Mr Alexander says:

“There is nothing which better symbolises the difference between Labour’s vision for the future and that of the Tories than our NHS.

“But we need your help to save it. Today we are launching a four month campaign to make clear that our health service as you know it won’t survive another five years of David Cameron.

“The Tories are already breaking half of the waiting time guarantees to patients enshrined in the NHS Constitution, including on cancer and A&E.

“A Tory second term would put us on course for ever-longer waits for patients because they have no plan to give the NHS the cash it needs and want to take public spending back to 1930s levels.

“And another five years of this rotten government could put us on course for a doubling of the scale of privatisation as competition is put before patient care.

“That is why the NHS is on the ballot paper at this election. And that is why we will work morning, noon and night to save it.”

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