BBC HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC low graphics | help
news vote 2001search vote 2001
 You are in: Vote2001
VOTE2001 
Main Issues 
Features 
Crucial Seats 
Key People 
Parties 
Results &  Constituencies 
Opinion Polls 
Online 1000 
Virtual Vote 
Talking Point 
Forum 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 
Voting System 
Local Elections 
Nations 

N Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 

BBC News

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

 A/V REPORTS
Prime Minister Tony Blair
outlines Labour's health and eductaion plans
 real 56k

Labour's Alan Milburn and Conservative Liam Fox
discuss the Labour government's record
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Labour pledge NHS ops rise
nurse
Labour say Tories want people to pay for health care
An extra 400,000 hip, knee, hernia and cataract operations have been announced by the Labour party as part of its plan to boost the NHS.

Prime Minister Tony Blair told a news conference that in contrast to Labour, the Tories had a "backdoor strategy" to push people out of the NHS for non life-threatening operations "to pay for them privately".


It's a damn disgrace - I'm 37 and I don't want to die waiting

Deborah Pemberton, voter
And Health Secretary Alan Milburn said thousands of people in the UK were housebound in chronic pain, and that the extra operations pledged by Mr Blair would be achieved by 2005.

But another cabinet minister was forced onto the defensive after a phone-in caller said she did not want to "die waiting" for a hospital appointment.

Mr Milburn said the number of knee and hip operations would rise by a third and there would be 40% more cataract operations under Labour.

This would be made possible by Labour's plans to recruit another 20,000 more nurses and 10,000 more doctors.

Caller's anger

But But Labour's pledges for NHS improvement, including reducing waiting lists, caused anger when Labour frontbencher Margaret Beckett appeared on BBC Two and Radio 4's Election Call.

Deborah Pemberton, from Newcastle on Tyne, told Mrs Beckett her bowel complaint had been "misdiagnosed" by the NHS.

Having endured a six-month wait for a hospital appointment, she was now having to wait a further three months, she said.

"It is a damn disgrace. I'm 37 and I don't want to die - I don't want to die waiting," Ms Pemberton said.

blair
Blair: "Investment and reform of public services"
"I've lost two stone, my doctor has begged for me to be treated urgently, but the hospitals can't do it," she added, accusing Mr Blair of "lying" about the NHS.

Mrs Beckett conceded there were "serious problems with waiting" and that there were aspects of the NHS that "urgently" needed improvement.

"We have substantially increased and accepted every pay recommendation for nurses," she said.

"We have to turn the health service round. We have identified where the money can come from."

She went on to tell Ms Pemberton, who was becoming increasingly angry, that improvements to the health service became apparent "slowly".

nurses
Labour say many women would be affected by Tory policy
It takes three years to years to train a nurse, seven for a doctor and 15 for a consultant, she said.

"The only way we can help people like you is to bring in extra staff. We have to put in the extra resources."

Tory leader William Hague also dismissed Labour's targets to recruit more doctors and nurses, accusing them of "plucking a number out of the air".

He said a Conservative government would match Labour's spending commitments on the National Health Service, but would concentrate more on retaining existing staff.

Hague hits back

"I think we will achieve any target faster than they will because we will do better at retaining people within the health service, he told a phone-in on Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell show.

"I think people aren't fooled by these made-up numbers any more."

He added a Tory government would get rid of the government's existing targets for reducing waiting lists.

"We have got to let the doctors decide how long somebody should have to wait and quickly somebody should be dealt with," he said.

However Tessa Jowell, minister with responsibility for women's issues, said the majority of people having the operations in question were women, and they would "bear the brunt of Tory cuts on NHS operations".

'Divided'

Mr Milburn added that the Tories had admitted they would "demand a little extra contribution" for operations.

He said this could mean paying 1,700 for a hernia, 3,000 for cataracts, 9,000 for a hip operation and 9,600 for knee treatment.

"The Tories are divided on Europe, but we are united in our mission to make our NHS work and schools work," he said, reiterating Labour's pledge to boost health and teacher numbers.

 A/V CONSOLE
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS

Latest stories

Our correspondents

Issues: Crime

TALKING POINT

INTERACT
PARTY WEB LINKS



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Related stories:

22 May 01 |  Vote2001
Labour plans NHS university
22 May 01 |  Vote2001
'Flexible' university for NHS
16 May 01 |  Vote2001
Labour health plans: Analysis
10 May 01 |  Vote2001
Labour health pledge 'not enough'
16 May 01 |  Vote2001
Reforming public services
©BBC