Belfast Telegraph

Ed Miliband in 'save the NHS' pledge

Ed Miliband will pledge to take action to "save the NHS" from day one of a Labour government with a rescue plan to boost funding and tackle a "crisis" in staffing.

Highlighting records showing one third of NHS Trusts were investigated last year over concerns about safe staff levels, the Labour leader will say he would order an emergency round of nurse recruitment immediately on taking power.

Plans to raise extra funding for the service through a mansion tax and tobacco levy would form part of the party's first budget, bringing in cash from the first year of office.

Mr Miliband will contrast Labour's plans for instant action as being paid for with "real money, right now" to what he claims is the unfunded Conservative pledge to find the £8 billion health chiefs say the service needs.

In a speech to student nurses at Manchester Metropolitan University, he will say: "The Tories are committed to even deeper spending cuts in the next three years than the last five, some of the most extreme cuts this country has ever seen. But they now want you to believe they're going to spend more on the NHS, with money they can't identify, from a place they cannot name, with false promises which have an expiry date of May 8 stamped on them.

"The truth is they haven't discovered it down the back of the sofa. The truth is they haven't got the money. The truth is they haven't got a clue how to pay for our NHS.

"Well, I have news for David Cameron: the British people don't believe you.

"They realise a second-term Tory government will put our NHS at risk. They know nothing is more dangerous for the future of our NHS than pretending you are going to pay for it with an IOU.

"We are the only party whose plans are fully funded, costed and based on the right principle that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.

"And we will use that money for a plan to transform services, and hire more doctors, nurses, care-workers and midwives. So that we have what every nurse wants, every doctor wants, every patient wants: an NHS with time to care.

"This plan has to start immediately, straigh away, with real money, right now - so in our first 100 days, in our first budget, our first year in office, first things first: we'll save the NHS, getting extra resources into the NHS right from the very start.

"We will start to bring in resources from the mansion tax and tobacco levy, not in 2019, 2018, or in 2017, but in our first year in office."

Labour is carrying out a week of intensive campaigning on the future of the NHS, which it claims is on "life support". It pointed to information uncovered using the Freedom of Information Act that shows around one third of NHS trusts were investigated last year over concerns about safe staffing.

Labour claims there have been more than 8,000 fewer nurses trained over the last five years than if 2010/11 levels had been maintained.

It says it would launch an immediate recruitment drive to put 1,000 extra nurses into training this year as part of its plan to increase numbers by 20,000 by 2020. Universities would be instructed to reopen admissions for this year's nursing courses, which were oversubscribed by 30,000.

Mr Miliband will add: "The Tories have caused a staffing crisis. Two-thirds of nurses say patients are missing out on care because there just aren't enough nurses on the wards and today we heard news that one in three NHS trusts were investigated last year because of concerns over safe staffing.

"None of this has happened by accident. It has happened as a direct result of choices this Ggovernment has made: cutting nurse training; failing to understand that if people don't get the care they need at home and in their own communities, it ends up in an A&E crisis; and wasting billions on a top-down reorganisation and creeping privatisation that no one wanted.

"That's not the NHS I believe in. It is not the NHS you believe in. It is not the NHS the British people want to see."

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