Thursday, 12 November 2009

The choice: a guarantee or a gamble on the NHS

The NHS is one of Labour's greatest achievements for Britain. A service that is available to all based on need - not ability to pay. From being on its knees in the mid 90s the NHS is now in better shape with more staff on the ground and new hospitals.

But although there has been investment and improvement I think you want know what we have planned for the future. The answer is that Labour is going to give more power to patients.

In the New Year Labour will introduce three legally enforceable rights. So by law if our local NHS Trust cannot meet the following three guarantees they will have to find you somewhere which can treat you as soon as possible. Even if it is in the private sector.

The three new rights are:
• Seeing a cancer specialist within 2 weeks if your GP suspects you may have cancer.
• A free health check every five years for those aged 40-74.
• All treatment, for any illness, should be within 18 weeks of GP referral.

And we want to go even further than these guarantees.

Our cancer pledge is to give people the legal right to get tested for cancer and get results within one week of seeing your GP. Labour also wants to bring in the right to see a GP at weekends or in the evening, and to abolish practice boundaries for good.

I will be campaigning for these new rights to be brought in as soon as possible.

The Tory Gamble

The Conservatives like to call NHS targets and guarantees "bureaucracy" and "red tape". They say they will get rid of all of Labour’s guarantees for patients. Including the guarantee that you will see a specialist within two weeks if you have suspected cancer. And they refuse to match Labour’s new one-week cancer diagnosis pledge. All the Tories offer on health is a gamble.

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