Prime Minister reveals new NHS funding commitment

Prime Minister David Cameron will set out new plans for the NHS.
Prime Minister David Cameron will set out new plans for the NHS. Photo: Sang Tan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

David Cameron will reaffirm his commitment to the NHS today with the announcement of £140 million in funding to ease the burden of red tape on nurses and midwives, enabling them to spend more time with patients.

As Conservative activists begin gathering in Birmingham for the party's annual conference, the Prime Minister will also pledge additional cash to ensure cancer patients have access to advanced radiotherapy treatment.

At the start of what could be a tricky week, he will use a visit to a hospital to focus on an issue which has been central to the changes which he has made to the party since becoming leader.

The new announcements will include £100 million for the latest software and other devices for NHS nurses and midwives in England to cut the time spent on form-filling and management processes like rotas.

Prime Minister David Cameron meets nursing staff in Blackpool earlier this year.
Prime Minister David Cameron meets nursing staff in Blackpool earlier this year. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The money will initially be made available in the form of loans, although hospitals will only have to pay back a proportion depending on how well they perform according to feedback from patients and the public.

There will be a further £40 million to help ward sisters and community team leaders develop their leadership skills - with training and support for 1,000 staff this year rising to 10,000 over the next two years.

Mr Cameron will also announce a £15 million cancer radiotherapy innovation fund, with a guarantee that from next April all cancer patients in England have access to the most innovative radiotherapy where clinically appropriate and cost-effective.

Writing in the Daily Mail about the fresh investment in the health service, Mr Cameron said: "We need to focus relentlessly on improving the care people get, and we're taking some big, practical steps to achieve that.

"The success of the NHS can't be measured in budget figures and percentage points. It's about care; dignity; kindness."

Most nurses and midwives chose their profession because they wanted to spend time caring for patients, not filling out paperwork. New technology can make that happen.

That's better for nurses and patients too, who will get swifter information and more face-to-face time with NHS staff.

The importance of these issues was laid bare by doctors' and nursing leaders. The Government's role is to listen to the NHS and support these leaders - that's what we're doing today.

– Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

The announcement comes after Ed Miliband sought to paint Labour as the true "One Nation" party in a well-received speech to his party conference last week in Manchester.

His apparent success will have only added to the restive mood among Conservatives assembling in Birmingham.

They arrive with the party continuing to trail Labour in the opinion polls, the economy still mired in recession and public sector borrowing stubbornly high despite the coalition's austerity programme.

The party has also been hit by the fiasco over the award of the franchise for the West Coast Mainline - which looks set to cost the taxpayer at least £40 million - and Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell's outburst when he reportedly swore at Downing Street police officers and called them "plebs".

Among Tory MPs there is frustration at the constraints imposed by their Liberal Democrat coalition partners on issues such as the European Union and expanding airport capacity in the South East.