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Andrew Lansley: Our chance to make the NHS the finest in the world

Thank you.

Isn’t it great to be here in Manchester.

I’m looking forward to 2010.

We’ve got the team.

We’ve got the captain.

And I really believe we’re going to win this time.

Yes, I am so looking forward to the World Cup next year;

and to the General Election as well.

I have a wonderful health team, too.

Stephen O’Brien, Mark Simmonds, Freddie Howe, Anne Milton, Mike Penning, Ian McColl.

Please join me in thanking them.

Alistair Darling thought Labour were like a Football team.

A demoralised team with their heads down, who have lost the will to live.

But what kind of football team would Labour be?

Alistair Darling in goal, always jumping the wrong way.

“On yer Ed” Balls, running out to the left, every time he goes in for a tackle, it’s studs up and over the top.

Alan Johnson, their pet trade unionist, so of course, he’ll be the striker.

And there’s “Mandy” in mid-field, shouting “pass it to me!”, “pass it to me!”

But if he ever gets the ball, he never passes it on.

And, of course, there’s Gordon Brown himself, who just keeps on kicking the ball, even when the whistle’s blown.

Because the whistle has been blown on Labour.

Their time is up.

Their game is over.

But it isn’t a game. It’s a tragedy.

They had such an opportunity and they wasted it.

So much hope.

So much money.

So little to show for it.

In the NHS, nine reorganisations in nine years, costing £3 billion.

80 per cent more managers; going up three times faster than the number of nurses.

Nurses spending a million hours a week on paperwork.

Deaths from hospital infections almost three times higher than deaths on our roads.

Top-down targets pushing NHS staff to put ticking boxes ahead of their patients’ needs.

Productivity declined by 4 per cent.

All of this has to change.

(pause)

Let me tell you one vital way in which we must be different from Labour.

Only to promise what we know we can deliver.

Do you remember when Tony Blair promised that everyone would have access to an NHS dentist. What happened?

Half the adult population now without an NHS dentist. One third of children without one.

Over 5,000 children a year going to A&E with severe dental problems.

So let us tell people:

Where Labour have let you down, we will deliver.

A new start for NHS dentistry.

Bringing dentists back to the NHS. Helping people to look after their teeth, instead of pulling them out.

That’s why we have promised in the next Parliament, a million more people with an NHS dentist.

And yes, school dental checks for every child.

(pause)

We are going to reverse the long slow death of NHS dentistry.

And then do you remember when Tony Blair said he didn’t want his children brought up in a country, “where the only way pensioners can get long-term care is by selling their home”?

And what happened? Twelve years on and still 45,000 people a year having to sell their homes to pay for care. For them, the costs can be over £25 000 a year and they rack up rapidly. They are the ones who lose everything they have worked and saved for because they are just unlucky enough to become seriously frail.

Gordon Brown offered them nothing last week. His flawed proposal wouldn’t stop one person having to sell their home to fund their long-term care.

Today I am announcing a Conservative plan that will end that scandal.

(pause)

A new scheme that will meet the costs if you have to go into a care home.

A one off, up-front payment like an insurance premium, of around £8,000 at age 65.

It will mean that all you have worked and saved for will be protected if you become too frail and unable to live in your home.

And when we start the scheme, don’t worry, we will give the opportunity for those over 65 to enter the scheme as well.

Of course, we will support people so they can live independently at home - no-one wants to go into long term residential care. But everyone should have the chance to insure themselves agains the risk.

Labour let people down over twelve years. Now Conservatives will give people the peace of mind of knowing that their home and savings can be protected.

Do you also remember Labour’s promise that a greater proportion of every pound spent would go on patient care, not bureaucracy?

They said they’d cut £250 million off the admin cost of local Primary Care Trusts. What happened?

These costs went up by £700 million. Again Labour failed, let me tell you how we will deliver.

If we are to ask the NHS to save in order to invest, we must cut back on top-down bureaucracy.

The NHS Chief Executive has asked for a 7 per cent cut in costs across the NHS over three years.

I have no doubt we must do this and more.

More to deliver improvements in quality and results.

More to cut costs and reinvest for growth and new challenges.

More to ensure that the axe falls not on frontline services but on waste and on bureaucracy.

I know it will be hard. It will have to really change the way things work in the NHS. But I know we’ve got to do it.

So, I can tell you today that we will cut the cost of health service central bureaucracy by a third during the next Parliament.

Primary Care Trusts. Strategic Health Authorities. The health Quangos. And the Department of Health itself.

They spend a total of £4.5 billion in administration every year.

So we will cut that bill by £1.5 billion within four years.

All this from the back office to the frontline.

We will tolerate no waste. No inflation. No poor value for money in NHS budgets.

We are committed to real terms increases for the NHS in the next Parliament.

The demands on the NHS will be going up.

A rising and ageing population, gene-based therapies, new treatments, preventative strategies and rising expectations.

For people’s needs to be met, we must deliver greater productivity, improved efficiency and better quality.

We have made our choice.

We will invest in the future of our NHS.

We will give people the security of the health care they need, when they need it.

We will not make the people of this country pay for Labour’s debt crisis by undermining their access to quality health care.

(pause)

In doing this, we will make the contract with the NHS crystal clear: Value within the NHS will mean we can better deliver the values of the NHS to the people of this country.

Because do you remember when Tony Blair said the reason he was increasing health spending was to bring our healthcare system up to the best in Europe?

But what happened?

While we do as well as the rest of Europe on heart disease, we are much worse on deaths from cancer, from lung disease, from osteoporosis and from arthritis.

And we have more obese people and heavy drinking

And so, I am determined upon change.

If we could be as effective as other European countries we could save up to 100,000 extra lives a year.

But how to achieve this?

As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

That seems to me a pretty fair description of Gordon Brown’s speech last week.

But if results are to improve, things will have to change.

At Maidstone and Stafford hospitals, boxes were ticked on the targets while patients were pushed out to sub-standard wards where they languished and died.

Ministers paraded their bogus statistical successes while doctors and nurses were silenced and patients were suffering.

Top-down command and control must go.

Let us be absolutely clear.

We will abolish Labour’s political targets.

It is a gross insult to doctors and nurses to say that without the targets, they would let patients wait and suffer. It is increasing capacity which delivered reduced waiting times. If we build capacity and patients use their choice to drive the access they want, we will see waiting times fall and standards rise.

Our vision is to make the NHS the finest health service in the world.

We will focus on results.

One year and five year cancer survival rates at least as good as any in Europe. Not just a two-week referral to a cancer specialist.

In A&E, reduced mortality after emergency admissions to hospital. Not just an arbitrary 4 hour target.

Zero tolerance of hospital infections, not just cutting them by a third.

The results that matter across the NHS like:

A positive birth experience for all mothers.

Building self-esteem for those with mental health problems, by helping them back to work.

These changes will only come if we push power out from the centre, into the hands of health professionals and patients.

Patients with more control and choice.

Giving you the choice of GP.

Giving you the choice of hospital.

Not just which hospital, but allowing you to choose which consultant is to be responsible for your hospital treatment.

Control over your health records.

Control through a powerful patient voice.

And control through personal budgets for those with chronic illnesses.

A transformation of the service from “you get what you’re given” to “how can we help you?” Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

As much emphasis on “Service” as there is on “National” and “Health”.

I am today publishing this ‘Commitment to Patients’. Clear simple statements of a changed NHS and how it will serve patients better under a Conservative Government.

These ambitious commitments will be delivered by incentivising results at every level of the NHS.

That starts with the bedrock of the service – family doctors.

Diagnosing, referring and continuing to be responsible for patient’s care, all the way through their journey.

Using their budgets to pay for results.

The payment must support both quality and value, with prices which reflect the most efficient hospitals and services, with penalties for poor performance and rewards for quality and better results for patients.

Labour have turned their back on patient choice and competition. I will not.

We will be true to the values of the NHS, of the equity that lies at its core; and we will enhance that by efficiency in delivery and excellence in outcomes.

Equity, efficiency and excellence.

These, all three, must be defining characteristics of our NHS.

What virtue in efficiency if it is not fair?

And America knows the damage done where there is excellence but not equity.

So our ambition is for equitable access to excellent health care delivered by an efficient service.

A service responsive to patients, led by accountable professionals.

A Government that is driving forward our public heath objectives to ensure that we achieve prevention rather than costly cure.

For the NHS, this must be an age of ambition.

A service which doesn’t just look back to 1948 but looks forward.

Which isn’t satisfied just if it’s better this year than last year, but looks across the world and says “are we the best?”; “what can we learn?”, “how can we improve faster?”.

We have much to learn and much to give.

I know how fabulous are our doctors, nurses and health scientists.

The examples are all about us, all across the country.

Cancer care at the Christie, here in Manchester.

Stroke services at King’s College Hospital.

Neurology at University College Hospital.

Orthopaedics at Stanmore.

Heart care at Leicester.

Transplants in Cambridge.

Treatment for lung disease at the Brompton.

Women’s health at Birmingham.

Care for children at Alder Hey.

Care for the elderly in Newcastle.

I could go on and on.

I know we can care for patients in our NHS as well as anywhere in the world.

But that potential is locked up today in a strait-jacket of targets, bureaucracy and controls.

We will release it.

The staff of the NHS increasingly trust us to help them deliver the service they aspire to.

The people of this country increasingly trust us to protect and improve the NHS.

Not least because of David Cameron’s personal commitment to the National Health Service and to the dedicated and talented people who work within it.

We value that trust and we will justify it.

So let us put it up there in lights:

Conservatives – the Party of the NHS.

Our NHS.

Our priority.

Our ambition:

For equity, efficiency and excellence.

Yes, our chance to make our NHS the finest health service in the world.

Together we can do this.

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