Ed Miliband says NHS staff and patients should hold the Government to account for the controversial reforms to the health service. In a speech to the Royal College of Nursing conference in Harrogate he said:
The NHS is owned by the people of Britain. Our health service is owned by patients, professionals and the people. And their voice - your voice - deserves to be heard. I can't promise that we will always agree about everything. But what I will never do is what this Government did: dismiss you as just a 'vested interest'. You were not a vested interest. You were the defenders of the health service.
Ed Miliband says he is proud of the way Labour handled the NHS when Labour was in power, but admitted the party "did not get everything right".
The Labour leader was addressing the Royal College of Nursing at congress in Harrogate a day after the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was forced to defend government reforms.
As part of his speech to NHS workers today Ed Miliband will accuse the Government of acting like "the masters, not the servants".
Mr Miliband will say: "Our health service is owned by patients, professionals and the people. And their voice - your voice - deserves to be heard. I can't promise that we will always agree about everything.
But what I will never do is what this Government did: dismiss you as just a 'vested interest'. You are not. You are the defenders of the health service."
Ed Miliband will be aiming to add to yesterday's misery for the Health Secretary when he makes a speech to the RCN later today.
The Labour leader will announce a Labour initiative - NHS Check - allowing NHS staff and patients to report on problems faced by hospitals, clinics and family doctors arising from Mr Lansley's shake-up.
He is also expected to urge NHS health and wellbeing boards - which will have strategic oversight of local commissioning - to resist new charges for treatment and ensure patients come before profits.
Conservative MP Simon Burns has told ITV News that if doctors decided to strike, patients would be "hit the hardest". Mr Burns said that GPs had 'extremely good pensions' in the public sector and that the Government's reforms were fair.
Senior Mental Health practitioner Marino Latour has told ITV News that he does not believe that care in the community will be possible with a "lack of resources" from the spending cuts, and that patients will end up "back in hospital".
David Cameron’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister had full confidence in Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, following a conference at the Royal College of Nursing conference today. The spokesman said:
"Whenever you are trying to reform a bit of the public sector and make changes, you should expect some opposition to that. But we think it is important to reform the NHS.
"Although we are protecting the NHS budget, an ageing population and increasing costs of treatments mean that we need to reform the health service. We want to work with healthcare professionals as we do that".
The Shadow Health Secretary has told ITV News that current pressure on the NHS has been caused by Andrew Lansley's decision to "combine the biggest ever financial challenge" with a reorganisation in the service.
Department of Health (DoH) figures show:
- The number of professional qualified clinical staff increased by 4,141 (0.7%) between May 2010 and January 2012, taking the total to 630,378.
- Over the same period, the number of non-clinical staff decreased by 18,130 (7.6%)
- The total number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff has decreased by 3,677 (1.0%), taking the total down to 350,235
General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Peter Carter, denied he had got his figures wrong over the number of jobs being lost in the NHS.