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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 16:43 GMT
Labour health policies

Find out more about the Labour party's policies on health.


Labour has promised to cut maximum waiting times by the end of 2005.

In the NHS Plan, published last summer, it promised that by 2003 there would be a maximum out-patient waiting time of three months, and a maximum waiting time for surgery of six months, reducing to three months.

It also set targets for the treatment of cancer, orthopaedics and ophthalmology.

It has also pledged an extra 400,000 knee, hip, hernia and cataract operations annually.

By next year, six out of ten patients should be able to see their GP within 48 hours and a member of the primary care team within 24.

By 2004 all patients will be able to see their GP within 48 hours.

NHS Direct, the telephone and online advice service will be expanded.


National Service Frameworks (NSFs) have been introduced for coronary heart disease, mental health and elderly people's services. And NSF is also due on diabetes care.

Labour has also set out targets in the NHS Cancer Plan.

It is aimed to cut the number of deaths from both cancer and heart disease.

Breast cancer screening will be extended to cover women up to the age of 70.

Screening programmes for colorectal and prostrate cancer could also be introduced.

Programmes for other cancers, including ovarian are also set to be considered.

In the NHS Plan, the government said that from this year, local efforts to address health inequalities will be assessed by the NHS Performance Assessment Network.

A smoking cessation service is being introduced on the NHS this year, including nicotine patches and other treatments on prescription.

In 2004, a scheme to give nursery and infant school children a free piece of fruit each day will be introduced.

There will be a new target to narrow the gap in infant and child mortality.


Labour promises spending on the health service will increase by an average of 6% per year for the next three years.

In the NHS Plan, it promised 7,000 extra beds by 2004, 2,100 in general and acute wards and 5,000 in intermediate care.

There will be over 111 new hospitals by 2010, and 500 one-stop primary care centres.

Nearly 3,000 new beds will be created, the first by 2006.

There will also be a network of fast-track surgery centres specialising in non-urgent operations.

Hospital appointments are to be pre-booked by 2005.

Three-quarters of operations to be carried out as day cases.

Premises and equipment to be improved, and power is to be decentralised to primary care trusts.

There are to be cleaner wards, better food and "modern matrons".

A "traffic light system" will reward high-performing NHS organisations.

NHS Direct will be expanded. By September 2001, access to NHS dentistry is promised to all who want it.


The NHS national plan promised that by 2004, there would be:

  • 20,000 more nurses
  • 7,500 more consultants
  • 2,000 more GPs
  • 6,500 extra therapists
  • 1,000 more medical school places (on top of 1,100 previously announced)
  • More pay for staff in areas with shortages
  • A revamped pay system for all staff
  • Childcare support and on-site nurseries

There will be changes to GPs contracts, with a third of GPs working under locally tailored "personal medical services" contracts by 2002.

Consultants' contracts are also being revamped, and the government plans to make consultants work solely for the NHS for the first seven years after they qualify.

Expansion of staff numbers is planned to continue until 2010.

An extra 11% will be put into the training budget for NHS staff next year.

Labour is also seeking to prove its commitment to staff by proposing to create an 'NHS university'.

The party says that the institution, which could be run in conjunction with existing universities, the private sector and the Open University, would allow staff to improve their qualifications and enhance their careers throughout their working lives.

The party has pledged to have the university established by 2003.


The NHS Plan outlined the concordat with the private sector.

The agreement, signed last year, said the traditional "stand-off" between the NHS and the private sector should end.

Elective care, critical care and intermediate care could all be provided for the NHS by the private sector.

In addition, the private sector could provide services such as pathology or dialysis.

It will also be involved in clinical trials with the NHS and other research.

A new agency called NHSplus will offer occupational health services to employers.


A mandatory reporting scheme for incidents and near misses, is planned to be in place by the end of this year.

Doctors will have to go through an annual appraisal to make sure they are still up to the required standard.

From April, all GPs, whether they work in practices or as locums, have had to be on the local health authorities list and will be governed by clinical governance arrangements.

The NHS Plan also said a National Clinical Assessment Authority will be set up to deal with local concerns about individual doctors' performance.

The NHS tribunal system will be abolished and health authorities will have the power to suspend or remove GPs.

Professional regulatory bodies should be smaller and have greater public involvement.

The UK Council of Health Regulators will be established.


A General Social Care Council (GSCC) for England, and an equivalent body for Wales to be established.

National and regional care standards monitoring bodies to be set up in England.

Nursing care, but not personal care to be funded for people in long term care, excluding Scotland, which plans for personal care to be free.

A minimum of a 40% increase in the number of adoptions, plus a national adoption register, and national standards for local authorities.

In the NHS Plan, the government pledged 1.4bn for health and social services for older people.

It also promised 900m for intermediate care in the next three years.

The government also pledged 5,000 more intermediate care beds and services to enable 50,000 more people to live independently at home.

Care trusts to have responsibility for all health and social care services in an area.


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