Cameron vow on ‘seven-day NHS week’

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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David Cameron is kicking off his campaign for No 10 with a pledge to deliver a “truly seven-days-a-week NHS” for England if the Conservatives are returned to power on May 7.

The Prime Minister will use a speech today to the Conservative spring conference in Manchester to set out plans for patients to be able to access hospital services at weekends as well as during the week.

The announcement comes the day after Ed Miliband launched Labour’s campaign with his promise of a “double lock” to safeguard the future of the NHS with £2.5 billion of new investment and restrictions on further privatisation – underlining the importance of health as one of the key election battlegrounds.

Mr Cameron will say that under the Conservative plans, hospitals across England will offer consultant-level services seven days a week by the end of the parliament in 2020.

The changes will start with emergency and urgent care services together with supporting services, such as diagnostics.

The Tories said that the changes would build on their commitment to ensure patients can access GP surgeries seven days a week, between 8am and 8pm.

A commitment to a seven-day health service is included in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, published last October, which said hospital patients should have access to seven day services “where this makes a clinical difference to outcomes”.

In his speech, Mr Cameron will say that accessing to healthcare outside normal working hours is too difficult while mortality rates are higher among patients admitted to hospital at weekends.

“For years it’s been too hard to access the NHS out of hours. But illness doesn’t respect working hours. Heart attacks, major accidents, babies – these things don’t just come from nine to five,” he will say.

“And the truth is that you are actually more likely to die if you turn up at the hospital at the weekend. Some of the resources are not up and running. The key decision-makers aren’t always there.

“With a future Conservative government, we would have a truly seven day NHS.

“Already millions more people can see a GP seven days a week, but by 2020 I want this for everyone with hospitals properly staffed, especially for urgent and emergency care, so that everyone will have access to the NHS services they need seven days a week by 2020 – the first country in the world to make this happen.”

For Labour, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the Conservatives’ plans lacked credibility.

“At the last election, David Cameron promised seven-day NHS services in his manifesto. Five years on, he’s making the same promise again,” he said.

“Not only has he failed to deliver on that promise, he made it harder for people to get a GP appointment from Monday to Friday. It is typical of the brass neck of a man who thinks he can take the public for mugs.

“With the NHS in increasing financial distress, David Cameron must set out clearly how it will be paid for. His extreme plans for spending cuts will mean they won’t be able to protect the NHS.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) warned that the Conservatives had not even committed the funds needed to maintain existing services, and accused the party of ” shameless political game playing”.

“The £2 billion extra funding that has been pledged falls far short of what is needed to deliver existing services, let alone fund additional care,” said BMA council chair, Dr Mark Porter.

“The NHS is recovering from one of the worst winter crises on record, during which some hospitals were forced to close their doors because they couldn’t cope.

“With existing services stretched to breaking point, a majority of hospitals facing crippling budget deficits and frontline staff under extreme pressure, the NHS needs far more than just words to deliver extra care.

“Without a detailed, fully-costed plan to provide the staff and resources needed to deliver more seven-day services, this is at best an empty pledge and at worst shameless political game playing with the NHS ahead of the election.”

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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