Labour’s manifesto for the general election will today propose a major shake-up of public services that could see underperforming hospitals taken over by management teams from more successful organisations.
Because of the financial crisis, the manifesto will include no big new spending commitments, but will instead feature a set of new rights and entitlements for patients, parents and citizens designed to drive up standards in the public sector.
In a foreword to the document, prime minister Gordon Brown says Labour’s “ambitious but affordable, bold but realistic” programme will deliver “a modern, progressive Britain based on fairness, respect, decency and openness”.
The manifesto will promise to make all hospitals foundation trusts by giving those that already have the status new support and incentives to take over others that are underperforming.
Labour aides said the reforms would “revolutionise” people’s relationship with the state by giving citizens more choice and more voice in the delivery of services.
And Mr Brown told The Guardian: “The days of take-it-or-leave-it public services are over. The days of just minimum standards are over. The days of the impersonal are finished.
“It has to be personal, accountable and tailored to your needs and with a mechanism to trigger change if the service does not meet your needs.”
The manifesto, to be launched in Birmingham today, will also extend testing for English language competency to cover all jobs that involve contact with the public - such as nurses, community support officers, social workers and call centre staff.
At present, the requirement covers only doctors from outside Europe, police officers and teachers.
Cabinet minister Ed Miliband said: “There are some places where there are proper standards to make sure people can speak English and engage with the public properly and some places there aren’t. Therefore it is right to have a proper standard across the board.”