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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Reid sets out 'personalised NHS'
John Reid, MP
People have higher expectations of the NHS, John Reid says
The NHS will become more personalised and convenient to use, Health Secretary John Reid has pledged.

Addressing the Labour Party conference, he said the public would be given more power, information and choice.

He said Labour would continue to recruit more doctors and nurses and raised the prospect of introducing NHS walk-in centres at train stations.

NHS centres already exist on high streets and in hospitals for treating minor injuries and ailments.

Medical centres in stations tend to be run privately.

Mr Reid said: "We will enable people to book appointments at times that fit into their busy lives, in places that are convenient to them like train stations for commuters with services tailored around their needs."

He told the delegates in Brighton that people in modern Britain had higher expectations of the NHS and wanted more convenience.


He reiterated earlier commitments to recruit 3,000 community matrons to help with the care of people with chronic conditions.

And he promised by 2008 no-one in England would have to wait longer than 18 weeks from seeing their GP to having their operation.

However, he said the NHS would remain "free at the point of need" with equal access for everyone.

The Royal College of GPs remained sceptical about walk-in centres.

Chair-elect Mayur Lakhani said: "We remain to be convinced that walk-in centres are anything more than a quick-fix.

"They are fine for minor injuries but less useful for more serious and chronic conditions.

"Walk-in centres are part of the solution but the real answer is to invest in primary care. Put simply - we need more GPs."

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the public should remain wary of Labour promises after previous conference pledges remain unfulfilled.

"Labour is all talk. What the people need is action - action to improve public health, action to provide a clean and safe environment in hospitals, action to improve services for people with long-term diseases and action to provide NHS dental services."

Paul Burstow MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, added to the criticisms.

He said: "Choice is meaningless unless the NHS has enough frontline staff to deliver.

"What people really want is not this government's false choice, but quality health care available close to home."

He went on to say: "Labour is dangerously addicted to targets which get in the way of hard working NHS staff delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time."

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