Miliband: Drop NHS reform over jobs
Ed Miliband has claimed that 6,000 under-threat nursing jobs could be protected with the money saved from abandoning the Government's NHS reforms.
The Labour leader stepped up calls for the Health and Social Care Bill to be stopped in its tracks, saying the £1.7 billion bill for the reorganisation would only exacerbate the financial pressures on the health service.
Speaking to NHS staff at a South London hospital, Mr Miliband said 3,500 nursing jobs had already been lost since the coalition came to power - a figure that would rise to 6,000 by the time of the next general election.
With the Bill coming before the House of Lords, he appealed to peers to throw it out. "The Bill before the House of Lords will not help you to deal with the pressure on resources, it will hinder you," he told a question and answer forum at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington, Kent.
"What we have discovered today is that there are already 3,500 fewer nurses in the health service compared to May 2010.
"There will be 6,000 fewer nurses by the end of this parliament. And when this Bill - if this Bill - passes the House of Lords and House of Commons there will be £1.7 billion set aside to be spent on the cost of the reorganisation.
"What I am saying today is, don't spend that money on that reorganisation; use that money to protect nursing jobs, to save 6,000 nursing jobs.
"I think that's the right priority at a time when the NHS is facing great pressure."
Mr Miliband called on healthcare professionals and peers of all parties in the House of Lords to oppose the Bill.
"Let's work together to drop this Bill, to avoid further disruption to the health service, let's avoid the sucking out of resources from frontline patient care, let's work together to save 6,000 nursing jobs."