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Standards dropping as NHS staff made redundant, claims Labour


Labour has attacked the Conservatives for having “damaged” the NHS over the past five years, claiming that thousands of frontline redundancies are partly to blame for the service’s deterioration.

Speaking today in Salford as he launched Labour’s election campaign, party leader Ed Miliband placed the NHS at the centre of the opening salvo in his bid to become prime minister in May.

He claimed the NHS was missing vital waiting time targets in accident and emergency departments and for operations, and it was now harder for patients to get a GP appointment.

If the Conservatives were to be re-elected, standards would continue to fall and the health service would be unrecognisable in five years’ time, he added.

“Give them [the Conservative party] five more [years] and the NHS as we know it just won’t be there”

Ed Miliband

Mr Miliband pledged that if his party were elected he would instead protect the NHS by introducing new measures such as guaranteed GP appointments within 48 hours and a one-week wait for cancer tests.

He re-iterated his commitment to a £2.5bn Time to Care fund, which would pay for 36,000 additional NHS staff, including 20,000 extra nurses.

“We’re [Labour] fighting for a Britain that deals with its debts responsibly, without shredding our NHS and vital public services…. The Tories have damaged the NHS in these five years. Give them five more and the NHS as we know it just won’t be there, said Mr Miliband.

His speech follows a document published yesterday by Labour, which lays out how NHS standards have allegedly fallen under the Conservatives and how Labour intends to “save” the service.

Drawn up by the Labour’s election campaign coordinator Douglas Alexander, the 27-page dossier is titled The NHS as you know it cannot survive five more years of David Cameron. Citing Department of Health figures, it claimed more than 9,000 frontline NHS staff were made redundant between 2010-11 and 2013-14.

“The Tories are already breaking half of the waiting time guarantees to patients enshrined in the NHS Constitution”

Douglas Alexander

It added that nurse staffing levels have failed to keep up with increased demand from a growing population, with the number of nurses per head in England having fallen from 5,364 whole time equivalent nurses in May 2010 per million people to 5,182 in May 2014.

The document argues that this has led to a shortfall of almost 10,000 nurses – part of a staffing crisis across the NHS which is contributing to falling standards.

It pointed to lower numbers of district nurses and modern matrons in 2014 compared with 2010, and highlighted that nurse training places have been cut over the same period – by around 7,000 commissions.

District community nurse home visit carer

The proposed Time to Care Fund – with its annual £2.5bn investment – would help to address these problems in the future, according to the dossier.

It also stated that Labour would introduce other improvements such as giving patients more input over local services changes, and creating a new fund for cancer treatment to provide better access to drugs, radiotherapy and surgery.

Mr Alexander said: “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,” he added.

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

The Labour dossier also used a recent Nursing Times survey to highlight the “real nursing pressures in the NHS”.

It quoted our survey published in February 2014, which found more than half of nurses believed their ward or unit remained dangerously understaffed a year after the Francis report.

A Conservative spokesman said: “We can only have a strong NHS by staying on the road to a stronger economy.

“Our long-term economic plan has meant we are able to increase the NHS budget in the next parliament to help fund [NHS England chief executive]Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View. This plan will help meet growing demand, give the public better access to GPs and improve preventative care - and it is widely supported in the NHS.”

He also pointed to recent workforce statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre , which show that, as of September 2014, there were 2,721 more nurses, midwives and health visitors than there were in May 2010.





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Readers' comments (19)

  • No, the NHS as it stands will not survive another 5 years of David Cameron - it has barely survived the first 5 years.
    It has never been his intention to pay for a service for the working class of the country and it still won't be - the really clever bit is that he has got others to believe that all will be ok (you can tell I'm a nurse - I still believe that people want an NHS for all). He (and his party) has different priorities.

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  • I still remember when David Cameron spoke to RCN congress before the previous election and promised faithfully that he would not do a major reorganisation of the Health Service if he was elected Prime Minister. We gave him a standing ovation. The first thing that happened when he got into power was a major reorganisation!!! I will never believe what he says again.

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  • “Our long-term economic plan has meant we are able to increase the NHS budget in the next parliament to help fund [NHS England chief executive]Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View......"

    Note the wording - "help fund" not fund entirely just help.

    Where is the other "help" going to come from? I reckon the Tories private sector hangers-on are waiting in the wings like ravenous vultures.

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  • Anyone who voted conservative only have themselves to blame for the state of the NHS today. Cuts, cuts, cuts to all public services. Our money, paid by us for us, our families, our friends, our communities being used for what?! The first thing to be done is a rise in higher income tax payers' tax. They can afford it. We the working class cannot afford the cuts to vital public services. I myself have been at risk of redundancy. My GP reported that they have been told they have to make cuts in precribing etc. How can this possibly be happening? And allowed to be happening. If the conservatives win again I will seriously have to consider leaving the UK.

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  • Vanessa Martin | 5-Jan-2015 5:17 pm

    are you sure you understood what was said?
    if so have you challenged him to see for what reasons he has not kept his word? maybe the rationale behind any proposed changes needs to be clearly understood before criticising.

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  • it is ridiculous these politicians pitting one group of voters against another as many are so gullible they will just follow without understanding the underlying political motives. the focus should be on the continuation of high standards of patient care and keeping up to date with change and constantly seeking improvement.

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  • Cameron said:
    "What I can tell you is, any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: "Here are my plans," and they involve front-line reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again. After 13 years of Labour, there is a lot of wasteful spending, a lot of money that doesn't reach the front line."

    Cameron did:
    Since then, 5,870 NHS nurses, 7,968 hospital beds, a third of ambulance stations, 5,362 firefighters and 6,800 frontline police officers have been cut.

    Cameron said:
    "We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT"

    Cameron did:
    VAT was raised to a record high of 20%. He also cut income tax for millionaires!

    Cameron said:
    "With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS."

    Cameron did:
    The coalition went on to launch the biggest top-down reorganisation of the service in its history.

    Cameron said:
    on Sure Start: "Yes, we back Sure Start. It's a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this"

    Cameron did:
    Since then, 566 of the centres have been closed, with over half of those still open no longer providing any onsite childcare.

    Happy to provide more examples of what the Tories say and what they do, or in the case of looking after the rich (ie those that make large donations to the party) what they don't say and then do, just ask.

    Oh, and do a bit of research on TTIP and ask yourself how, if Cameron gets his way, TTIP Will affect the NHS, your salary, and your pension. Please do it.

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  • I wish that MP's would stop using the NHS as a political football. One minute they are kicking the workforce while they are down the next they are stating what they can do for it. All parties are as bad as each other. Why trust people who deny us a pay rise yet give themselves a 9% rise.

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  • Tony, it was 10% if I recall correctly.

    And that's before the expenses they are allowed to claim.

    All in this together?


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  • The Tories are consistent, they've always hated the NHS. But please don't think Labour will be any better. Whatever party wins the next election, you can be sure, they will drive us crazy.

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