Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:09 UK

Labour pledge on NHS reforms

Hospital ward
Every patient going into the NHS will be screened for MRSA

Gordon Brown has confirmed that every NHS hospital in England will become a foundation trust by 2015, later than originally planned.

Launching the party's election manifesto, he re-affirmed pledges to give patients legally-binding rights on treatment and waiting times.

The manifesto says failing trusts could be taken over by others that are more successful.

Some experts suggested this could potentially be a problematic strategy.

Nigel Edwards from the NHS Confederation said: "There is a lot of evidence that these are risky undertakings.

"If the problems are structural rather than just bad management they can cause difficulties for the organisation doing the take-over. They would want to do very careful due diligence."

GP services

It also sets out commitments to more personal healthcare, and greater access to GPs at weekends and evenings.

Foundation trusts
Not for profit public organisations
Have greater freedom to run their own affairs
They only exist in the NHS in England and there are currently 129
Another 93 are yet to follow

In each area of England, a GP led health centre is either already open or opening soon to provide care from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

Labour also plans to work with charities to give cancer patients end-of-life care in their own homes, if they wish.

Everyone with a long-term condition will have the right to a care plan and an individual budget.

However, patients who fail to turn up for pre-booked appointments will lose the right for fast-track treatment, the manifesto says.

The general election manifesto confirms announcements already made that people suspected of having cancer will be referred to a specialist within two weeks, and get their test results within one week.

The promise of faster test results, which was announced at the last Labour party conference, will take until 2017 to be fully available to all patients in England.

A legal right for patients in England to receive hospital treatment within 18 weeks from referral by their GP came into force at the beginning of April.

The target for urgent suspected cancer cases to be seen by a specialist within two weeks also became a legal right at the same time.

Commenting on the launch of the manifesto, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of BMA Council said: "Patients deserve the right to have prompt treatment, but this must not override clinical priorities.

"Patients should always be treated on the basis of clinical need and not according to the latest target."

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