UK Politics

Burnham: NHS 'not for sale' in Labour hands

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Media captionAndy Burnham says he is serving notice on Cameron and Clegg, with the election being a day for reckoning for the NHS.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said Labour will put "people before profit" in the NHS, as he promised to "rescue a shattered service".

He told the Labour conference its blueprint for an NHS "personal to you and your family" would be at the centre of its general election campaign.

Terminally ill patients would have the right to free palliative care at home.

Labour has said it will inject £2.5bn into the NHS to pay for 36,000 more GPs, nurses and other professionals.

On Tuesday, Ed Miliband announced plans for a "time for care" fund to pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 midwives by 2020 - paid for by a crackdown on corporate tax loopholes, a "mansion tax" and a levy on cigarette makers.

Mr Burnham said the one of the first acts of a Labour government would be to repeal the coalition's re-organisation of the NHS in England to stop what he said was its "dismantling".

'Election battle'

A Labour government would reinstate the NHS as "preferred provider" of services and ensure hospitals worked together rather than in competition with each other, he told delegates.

"We will free the NHS from David Cameron's market... The market is not the answer to 21st Century health and care."

Next year's election, he argued, would be a "battle for the soul" of the NHS.

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Media captionEd Miliband announced £2.5bn cash pledge for the NHS

"So today we serve notice on David Cameron and Nick Clegg: Thursday 7th May 2015 - your day of reckoning on the NHS.

"A reckoning for trashing the public's most prized asset without their permission. And a reckoning for a ruinous reorganisation that has dragged it down and left it on the brink."

While the NHS would "never be for sale" under Labour, he said "radical" structural change was needed if it was to meet the growing demands placed on it in a time of austerity.

A future Labour government would pursue the full integration of health and social care services, a move which could save billions, put social care on an equal footing and "complete the vision" of former Labour minister Aneurin Bevan, regarded as the architect of the NHS.

Carers' rights

Labour, he said, would address the "ever-increasing hospitalisation" of older people by transforming all hospital trusts and NHS bodies into integrated care organisations.

"It makes no sense to cut simple support in people's homes only to spend thousands keeping them in hospital. We can't afford it. It will break the NHS."

As part of a shake-up of palliative care, he said patients would be given the right to die at home "where clinically possible".

Up to 60,000 people on the "end of life register" could potentially be offered free care at home in their final few months, starting with those with substantial social care needs.

He also announced new rights for carers, including ring-fenced funding for a respite break, the right to an annual health check and assistance with parking charges.

But BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle said it was "not yet clear" what Labour's £2.5bn pledge would mean for the NHS, given the coalition government had actually increased the budget by a similar amount in cash terms.

For the Conservatives, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Mr Burnham failed to mention NHS failures - including the Mid-Staffordshire scandal - under the last Labour government.

"Andy Burnham talked about NHS privatisation that isn't happening," he tweeted.

"Less than five minutes after criticising the Health and Social Care Act, Burnham promises a reorganisation of the NHS."

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