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Andy Burnham: NHS needs a ‘reset’

Published on 06/06/14 at 10:58am
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The NHS must be ‘reset’ in order to make it into a 21st century health service, according to shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

Addressing the NHS Confederation conference, he said: “We cannot pour more money into an existing system which is no longer fit for purpose.” It needed to be ‘reshaped around individuals’ and he insisted that a market approach to delivering services simply ‘delivers fragmentation’ and is “not the answer to 21st century care”.

To this end, he said that the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which put in place the current controversial reform of the NHS, would ‘go’. Even so, he added that the NHS can achieve service change without restructuring the system – but patients would have to accept changes to their local hospitals.

“We need to give the NHS freedoms to change the way services are provided, and for this the NHS needs political consensus on the changes that are needed,” he added.

There is consensus among political parties that more care needs to be provided away from hospitals – because time spent on wards is expensive and can be inefficient. But Burnham told the conference that the current structure ‘pulls towards hospitals, not home’.

Instead he pledged that a Labour government would ensure a trend towards community-based care. “The financial tide needs to pull towards the home and not the hospital” and care for “the whole person”, he said.

The NHS needs to be ‘reinstated’ as the preferred health provider with the correct financial incentives, Burnham concluded.

In a separate speech to the conference, health secretary Jeremy Hunt also also emphasised the need for out-of-hospital care, and insisted that the key recommendations of the Francis report must be carried out. “There must be no turning back the clock on Francis,” Hunt said.

Robert Francis QC’s report into the Mid Staffs scandal revealed that patients at Stafford Hospital were subjected to ‘appalling and unnecessary suffering’ there.

They were ‘routinely neglected’, with hundreds dying between 2005 and 2008, many of whom were not cleaned properly or given medicines, food and drink.

Around £1.3 billion of NHS cash is ‘wasted on litigation’ and patient safety is the ‘key to sustainability”, Hunt added.

Adam Hill


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