Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Research by the Nursing Times showing a high turnover of nurses recruited from abroad

I warned David Cameron it would be a false economy to cut nurse training places and that is proved by expensive recruitment from overseas and the unprecedented use of agency nurses. Labour plans to bring through a new generation of home-grown nurses by training a further 10,000 above current levels in the next Parliament.

David Cameron has left the NHS seriously short of the nurses it needs – he should match our plans to invest an extra £2.5 billion to recruit 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Andy Burnham speech on Labour’s 10-year plan for health and care

Good morning and thank you for being with us at such an important moment.

The Party which created the NHS in the 20th century today resets it for the 21st.

Ed Miliband has this morning launched Labour’s pledge to create a national health and care service, backed by new investment in investment in the nurses, doctors, midwives and homecare workers that will ensure the NHS has time to care.

I am setting out a 10-year plan explaining how we will build it.

It is based on the simple notion that, if we start in the home and make care personal to each family, it is more likely to work for them and cost less for everyone.

A service where families no longer have to battle for help, telling the same story to everyone who comes through the door, but have just one person to call.

Where people can find mental health support, such as counselling or therapy, as readily as medication.
Where care is no longer cut up into crude 15-minute slots but where staff have the time to care.

And where people with dementia and autism are supported as well as those with cancer.

This is the scale of our ambition: an NHS for the whole person; affordable and sustainable for the country.

The challenge is so great that it can’t be achieved with more of the same: another imposed re-organisation without consent.

Instead, the journey to a national health and care service must be one that everyone is invited to join and everyone has a part to play; where change is not dropped on people from a great height but worked at and built by people in every community.

But one thing is clear: change can’t wait.

At the start of 2015, the NHS finds itself in a dangerous place.

If A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system, then we must look at what it is telling us.

Hospitals have not met this Government’s lowered A&E target for 79 weeks running – and things are getting worse.

The barometer is warning of severe storms ahead.

If we don’t change course, the crisis we are seeing now in A&E and the ambulance service will become entrenched in the NHS.

At the start of this Parliament, I warned of the impact that cuts to social care could have on the NHS.

That warning has been borne out by what is unfolding now: the collapse of social care is dragging down the NHS with it.

As 2015 began, there were record numbers of frail, elderly people in hospital beds – trapped there because the hospital is the last resort in a system where other services can’t meet their needs.

Last year, an elderly lady from Lincoln spent an entire calendar year in a hospital bed; a sad sign of a system that simply isn’t working for anyone.

Hospitals are operating at their limits and, with the wards full, pressure is backing up through A&E.

People are waiting longer for ambulances to arrive and to be seen in A&E.

But there is a knock-on effect felt by other patients, having operations cancelled at the last-minute or waiting longer for cancer treatment to start.

This situation is affecting patients in the community too. As hospitals treat record numbers, so they draw in more resources. This Parliament has seen cuts to GP services, community services and mental health.

People struggling to get GP appointments are turning to A&E, as are people with mental health problems who can’t access the crisis support they need.

Unsurprisingly, our hospitals are close to being overwhelmed.
This is the vicious circle in which the NHS is now trapped.

And it could get much worse.

On the current Government’s spending plans, social care will be further stripped out, pushing hospitals to breaking point.

And, with the Health & Social Care Act still in force, the next Parliament could see the NHS sunk by a toxic mix of cuts, crisis and privatisation.

The NHS desperately needs a change of course and the plan we are launching today provides it.

It will lift the NHS out of its downward spiral and provide a long-term solution to the A&E crisis.

But it is much more than that.

It offers a positive vision of what the NHS can aspire to be in a century when people’s needs have changed; that answers the question of how it can be afforded; and that, after the divisive change of the past, is something for people to believe in and unite around; that offers something in short supply in the NHS right now: hope. Hope that the NHS is not on a slow path out but that it can be rebuilt as a 21st century service.

It is two years since I came here to propose full integration – a single health and care service.
Since then, we have been round the country and consulted professionals, patients and public.

We have taken expert advice from Sir John Oldham and the Commission on Whole Person Care. Their work has been invaluable to Ed Miliband and I and the plan we are publishing today draws heavily on it, together with that by Stephen O’Brien on mental health in society and Denise Kingsmill on the social care workforce. We thank them all.

Other important reports have been published since my 2013 speech: the RCP Future Hospital report; the NHS Confederation’s 2015 Challenge Manifesto; reports by the Fabian Society and the IPPR on Whole Person Care; the Barker Commission and the Five-Year Forward View.

All have helped shape our thinking and I see them as entirely complementary to our plan.
It is also a substantive and considered response to the Francis Report and the failings at Mid-Staffs.

What the Francis Report laid bare was the danger of trying to rise to the challenge of the ageing society with a hospital-based, production-line model of care that is not sufficiently person-centred and where social and mental needs are frequently neglected.

Robert Francis invited us to rethink from first principles how we care for older people and this is what we have done.

But our solution is equally applicable to the care of anyone who needs on-going support: from the child with complex needs to the adult with learning or physical disabilities.

When we talk of the ageing society, we tend to think of people in their 80s and 90s in homes or hospital. But the truth is that ageing is changing society more profoundly than we might realise.

For instance, children with severe disabilities are now living into their 20s and 30s - beyond the point of transition from children’s to adult services – while more adults with learning disabilities are living long enough to develop dementia too.

This is the complexity of care in the 21stcentury and the truth is we don’t yet have services that can provide an adequate response.

Our aspiration should be to have services that can meet all of one person’s needs – physical, mental and social – wherever they may be; from home to hospital and everywhere in between.

That is what Whole Person Care should mean in practice; services that don’t just see the immediate problem but the whole person behind it.

That is the vision I put to you two years ago and, in the discussions we have had since, I have taken great encouragement from the endorsement you have given to it.

But you made a number of important calls - and I have listened.

First, you asked for clarity.

The Oldham Commission sets out succinctly what we are trying to achieve: one person, one team, one service; a service that aspires to achieve in all of us a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, rather than just treat disease or infirmity.

Second, you asked for stability.

Our response is to set the path to full integration and a single service as a 10-year journey.

The plan reaffirms our intention to work through the bodies we inherit, with no new structural re-organisation, but adding ambition and impetus to existing plans for integration.

Third, you asked for flexibility.

We agree that integration can’t be mandated from on high. Instead it will need to be worked at, a journey driven at local level, where people work to build relationships and change culture.

So we won’t impose one way of doing things – one model of care - but let different places find their own way to solutions that are right for their area.

And, fourth, you asked for consensus.

I know that the NHS is in such a fragile position, and morale so low, that a new round of contested reform might finish it off.

But, that said, the Health & Social Care Act put a political agenda at the heart of the NHS that goes against its grain.

So I also know that things can’t stay as they are.

That has been the dilemma I have faced and this plan is designed to square that circle: putting the right values back at the heart of the NHS without a re-organisation; and moving beyond the polarising debates of the past about tariffs, targets and structures and towards a new goal – Whole Person Care – true to people’s professional vocation.

If people get behind it, this plan can provide the new national consensus that the NHS so badly needs.

A big claim, I know. And people will ask – how?

It means going back to the things that truly matter - values, power, money, organisations and people – and getting those fundamentals right.

So let me take you through what we propose on each.

Our journey towards a national health and care service starts with values.

Today Labour calls time on the Tory market experiment in the NHS.

I am clear: the market is not the answer to 21st century health and care.

If we allow market forces to continue to take hold, they will eventually break the NHS apart.

Our destination is integration. Markets deliver fragmentation. They bring more providers onto the pitch, increasing the cost and complexity of care.

But they also clash with the NHS values, undermining collaboration with competition and patient care with the profit motive.

I believe the reason why the public continue to trust the NHS in the way that they do is because it remains at heart a service that is based on people and not profits.

That is why so many NHS staff give more of themselves to it than their contracted hours.

If today’s politicians do not understand that, they will never understand the value of what our predecessors created.
That is why the Health & Social Care Act 2012 created such a rift.

It remains a contested piece of legislation, with no democratic legitimacy.

Securing a national consensus on the NHS will simply not be possible as long as it remains in place.

So, if elected, Labour will introduce a Bill to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 in our first Queen’s Speech.

But we do this not because Labour is turning its back on reform. We do it to enable the radical reform of services that is now urgent.

The NHS needs the freedom to collaborate, to integrate, to merge, to break down organisational boundaries without having to run wasteful tenders that integration harder to achieve in practice or having the competition authorities blocking its plans.

Over the next decade, services will have to change more than they have in the history of the NHS. To embrace that, the NHS will need to be secure in its position.

So we will cement the public NHS as our preferred provider at the heart of every community. Our new Bill will legislate for that, claiming a full exemption for the NHS from EU procurement and competition law - as we are entitled to do under the Lisbon Treaty - and from international trade treaties such as TTIP.

This does not mean there is no longer any role for the voluntary and private sector. There is a role. But we will clarify what that role should be: a supporting – not replacement - role.

To help them become stronger partners, non-NHS organsiations need more stability too. So we will move away from an approach based on short-term contracts towards long-term alliance contracts as proposed by the Oldham Commission.

But a distinction will be drawn between not-for-profit and for-profit providers.

Given that voluntary organisations build volunteering capacity – which in turn builds the health of people and communities – we should give them the benefit of much longer and more stable arrangements, for instance for five or even ten years.

Private sector organisations, working as long-term partners, will have to accept NHS standards.  So we will extend the Freedom of Information provisions to any provider of NHS services and consult on a new training levy so that all providers contribute to the costs of training clinical staff.

This approach returns the right values to the heart of the NHS. But is also cements its financial strength as a national service, rather than a market-based system.

All the evidence from around the world says that national systems like ours cost less than market-based health systems.

The NHS delivers comprehensive cover of a good standard to every single citizen for less than 10 per cent of GDP. No other country in the world comes close to that.

In a century when rising demand and costs is the greatest challenge, we should build on that foundation not chip it away.

A national system allows us to set out in a fair way what people are entitled to and thereby to control those costs.

People don’t want postcode lotteries in health care. Nor do we want an NHS that sits in judgment on people’s lifestyle, with arbitrary restrictions on operations, or saying that people with two cataracts can only have clear sight in one eye.

So we will stop that growing practice and re-establish the authority of NICE. If a service or medication is judged clinically necessary, effective and affordable, everyone should get it.

And we will ask NICE to help us set out a new entitlement to Whole Person Care, given that it will make sense to provide more services on a universal basis in an integrated NHS.

For instance, we will ask for advice on establishing a universal re-ablement scheme to help the most vulnerable people return home from hospital.

And to make sure the focus is always on prevention, we will ask NICE to take an expanded view of all public spending when making their decisions.

It makes no sense to restrict treatments to save money for the NHS if that only adds costs to other government departments. For instance, restrictions on mental health care for young people may add huge costs to the criminal justice system.

But as we strengthen the N in NHS – and restore democratic responsibility to the Secretary of State - where does that leave the local role?

This brings me to stage two on our journey which is about putting power in the right hands.

I don’t think we have ever got the balance right between the national and local roles.

The current Government’s reforms have weakened the national function.

But the last Government was accused of being too prescriptive: deciding not just ‘what’ should be done but ‘how’ people should do it.

If our journey to Whole Person Care is to set off on the right foot, we need to get the national and local roles in better balance.

Here’s what I think that should be: if the national role is to spell out the ‘what’, then the local should be to decide the ‘how’.

How best can Whole Person Care be delivered in our community? How can we make the range of services, buildings and providers we have work better for everyone?

Integration can’t be imposed by top-down edict and timetables.

But this doesn’t mean the pressure is off.

The quicker that people embrace full integration – and everything it entails – the sooner they will place local services on a path towards clinical and financial sustainability.

By legislating for commissioning with this budget – as a partnership between the NHS and councils through the Health and Well-being Board - we will finally vest people at local level with real power.

Local authorities will have a bigger canvas on which to create much more imaginative solutions to improve population health and well-being.

They will be able to link health with housing, education, planning, transport and leisure – achieving Professor Michael Marmot’s ‘health in all policies’ goal – and develop new solutions that are simply not achievable from within the confines of the current public sector silos.

Local areas will have more ability to invest in prevention – for instance, expanding exercise on prescription to make maximum use of local leisure facilities – while having more ability to protect children from the proliferation of outlets selling fast-food and cheap alcohol.

This is how our new approach to public health is consistent with the plan published today.

We know that intervening in the first 1001 days of life makes all the difference to life chances for children with the biggest challenges.

So why doesn’t it happen and why do families still have to battle every day?

It is because of those silos in commissioning, where people argue about who should pay for the speech and language therapy while all the while the child slips behind.

And it is because those same silos create services that don’t relate to each other and can’t see the whole child.

I heard about a recent meeting attended by a paediatrician to discuss the care of one child with 36 people in the room.

Another family reports a child having over 150 appointments in a year but couldn’t get help with a simple problem out of hours.

This is no longer affordable nor morally justifiable.

Nor is a situation where child and adolescent mental health services are the poorest relation of all, getting just six per cent of the mental health budget.

Our plan for integrated local budgets for children will change this.

It finally creates an incentive to do the right thing at the earliest possible stage in a child’s life, because all the long-term savings will return to the same pot.

That is the way we will build a fairer society, get best value for taxpayers and make services sustainable.

But it isn’t the only financial reform we need to make and this brings me to stage three on our journey: money.

The pressures on public spending are now so great that the journey towards integration will need real momentum.

And that will not happen until we change the way the money flows.

The NHS is today trapped in a financial framework that rewards the treatment of illness and infirmity.

The financial tide drags to the most expensive end of the system – the acute hospital bed.

Community services have no incentive to invest in prevention and hospitals get paid by everyone who comes through the door.

This is bad for patients and bad for taxpayers.

For the want of spending a few pounds in people’s homes on decent care, we are spending tens of thousands keeping people for months, even up to a year, in hospital beds.

If we were to put new investment into the NHS without fundamental financial reform, the reality is that much of it would end up being sucked into hospitals.

So we must turn that financial tide around.

We need a new financial system that makes the home the default setting for care, not the hospital, and prioritises prevention as well as treatment.

Social care is prevention and the key to making that change. It is by integrating it with the NHS that we create the conditions for major efficiency and productivity savings.
For people at greatest risk of hospitalisation, we will implement a ‘Year of Care’ payment system covering all of their care needs to replace the activity tariff.

At a stroke, this will switch the incentive from treating in a hospital to preventative support at home.

It will mean giving people quality time rather than flying 15-minute visits.

And it will mean a big shift towards more personalisation.

If we take time to ask people what will work for them and their family, then it will be more likely to work and not exceed the ‘Year of Care’.

When the NHS is paid for in this way, it will finally bring the change that is urgently needed to the way services are provided.

NHS organisations will have an incentive to start in the home and evolve into integrated care organisations, moving on from the 20th hospital-dominated treatment model.

This takes me to stage 4: organisations.

Whole Person Care will only succeed if all NHS bodies rethink how they work and begin their own journey towards integration.

For ‘Year of Care’ to work, it will need an accountable organisation to hold the ring and co-ordinate the care.

All health economies will need to develop integrated care organisations, providing services directly or working through trusted partnerships.

And if we are to encourage this evolutionary change, we must now rethink the principles that have governed provider reform and create a new role for Monitor.

The Foundation Trust reform, and the focus it brought on financial grip, helped improve efficiency and productivity.

But it no longer makes sense to focus solely on the viability of individual institutions, particularly where efforts to securing the finances of one could end up destabilising all around it.

The public spending outlook for the next 10 years brings a new reality: the competing silos are a luxury we can no longer afford.

The stark truth is there are too many separate organisations with separate administrations. There are savings to be made from reducing administrations in every health economy in England.

We need to break down the silos and end those divides that hold us back: primary versus secondary care; physical versus mental health; NHS versus council.

As the Future Hospital report recommended, people must leave loyalties to parts of the system behind and embrace a new shared loyalty to the local population.

To help this process along, and unlock the savings it will bring, we will abolish Monitor’s duty to promote competition and ask it to focus on promoting integration.

Rather than assessing the viability of individual organisations, we will ask it to rate all local health economies annually on the overall financial viability of their provider arrangements.

CQC will need to undergo a similar change as organisations begin to work across traditional boundaries, assessing overall care quality by locality as well as individual organisations.

The fact is that care failures in one local organisation can be the root cause of problems in another.

For instance, there are too many care homes in England failing to give adequate training to their staff who often feel they have no option but to call 999 in a challenging situation.

While we have been clear for some time about what integration will mean for local NHS organisations, there has been a missing piece in the jigsaw: out-of-hours care and the ambulance service.

To take a major step towards integrated, seven-day working in the NHS, it is right that we look at a new future for the ambulance service.

I see that as an integrated provider of emergency and out-of-hours care, able to treat people where they find them rather than carry them to hospital.

This is a substantial answer to relieving the growing pressure on A&E.

It is the lack of integration in out-of-hours care that often results in carrying to hospital as the default option.

Just as we call for a single team approach in local care, so the same principle should apply in out-of-hours arrangements.

This is how we do it.

As NHS 111 contracts expire, we will look at ambulance services taking them on so that, in time, they could handle all 111 and 999 calls from the same call centres.

This will mean more experienced staff on the phones, and better classification of calls.

But just as with other parts of the NHS, we need to ask the ambulance service to work from a default presumption of treatment at home, not hospital – if clinically safe and appropriate.

To do this, paramedics will need to be able to call directly on a wider range of health professionals – GPs, OTs, physios, care assistants – who can settle and support people at home in out-of-hours times before handing over to local teams.

Building a sense of a single team with GP out-of-hours services is essential, all with a financial incentive to keep people out of A&E.

So we will consult on better ways in which GP out-of-hours can be integrated with the ambulance service.

These changes will allow us to build a high-quality, highly co-ordinated response behind the NHS 111 number that commands better public confidence than it has today.

This new vision for a 21st century ambulance service is a classic example of how we can build better integrated services without new money when we move away from the mentality that every small service must be put out to tender.

But organisations won’t deliver Whole Person Care.

If the new NHS is to be what we want it to be, it will be built by people.

That is why Stage 5 is the most important of all: empowering not just those who give care but those who receive it too.

With moves towards fewer, more integrated providers – and the notion of an accountable provider under the ‘year of care’ system – we will ensure that no-one will be stuck with poor or unresponsive services.

We won’t let that happen.

The great thing about uniting physical, mental and social in one service is that it creates the conditions for true personalisation of care in a way our silo-based services could never manage.

So, to give people the power to get what they need to live the best life they can, we will amend the NHS Constitution to give them a series of powerful new rights. For example:

·         the right to a single point of contact for the coordination of all care for those with on-going needs.

·         the right to a personal care plan – covering health and social care - agreed between the individual, their family and services, including new preventative checks for vulnerable or frail older people to help spot risks and act before problems occur.

·         the right to counselling and therapy as well as medication, as part of a new emphasis on social prescribing

·         the right to support for family carers, such as respite care

·         the right to care where you want it, to give birth at home or to be in your own home at the end of your life with homecare provided on the NHS

These rights, alongside financial reforms, will encourage services to change – to become less patient-centred and more person-centred.

We will also give people a right to a GP appointment within 48 hours, cancer tests and results within one week.

Of course, they will not be able to be delivered overnight. Services will need time to adapt.

But, to ensure momentum on the journey to Whole Person Care, I can say today that I will require them to be deliverable in all parts of the country by the end of the next Parliament.

This is how people and their families will no longer be passive recipients but active participants in building the NHS of the future.

But these new rights will empower people who give care too.

Rather than a system based on targets, which too often empower managers, a system based on person-centred rights will create a different culture for staff to work in and one which is more true to their clinical vocation.

It won’t just be NHS staff who benefit from the changes I am announcing today.

They also lift the social care workforce - neglected and exploited for far too long, as Denise Kingsmill so rightly and persuasively said.

We all have some soul-searching to do.

How much longer are we prepared to say that an older person is only worth 15 minutes of support?

And how much longer as a society will we send out the message that caring for someone else’s mum, dad, brother, sister is the lowest form of work, lower than the minimum wage because it doesn’t way the travel time between the fifteen minutes?

For as long as we fail to change this, we will continue to have a care system that fails older people and those who care for them.

A service provided on a below-minimum-wage, zero-hours basis will never be able to provide the quality we would want for our own parents or aspire to for everyone’s parents.

It will mean those appalling scenes of abuse that we see on our TV screens will recur year after year.

This is a national scandal and, today, Labour vows to end it.

We need tougher penalties against individuals and institutions in which this abuse takes place. But we also need to begin to value the care workforce.

As part of the move to Whole Person Care, we will begin the process of unifying standards across the health and care workforce.

We will be able to do this through the introduction of the Year of Care approach. It will give NHS organisations an incentive to provide better home-based care that does a real job of keeping people out of hospital.
So we will ask the NHS to require proper training and support for social care staff, either those it employs or those with which it contracts.

And, as good care is based on continuity, we will tackle exploitation in the care sector by banning zero-hours contracts that exploit workers; firms will no longer be able to operate business models that rely on zero-hours contracts.

This will begin to change the culture of social care in England and value those who work in it.

By turning the financial incentives of the system around to provide better care and support in the home we can drive the change in quality of social care that is needed.

Previous NHS plans have invested more energy in rethinking structures rather than developing people.

Well I am not going to make that mistake.

Whole Person Care will in the end by driven by people and their passion for what they do, who want to do it better and know they could if freed up to work differently.
One of my greatest criticisms of what has happened in this Parliament is that a major re-organisation was foisted on the NHS with no meaningful workforce plan.

And, now, morale is sinking fast as hospitals and GP surgeries are becoming overwhelmed and doctors and nurses retire or go overseas.

But, as people leave, the pipeline isn’t bringing new people through in the required numbers.

This Parliament has brought deep cuts to training places - a false economy on the grandest of scales.

It has left the NHS saddled with a bill for agency staff that is spiralling out of control and forced to recruit overseas.

The NHS needs to break out of this and bring through a new, home-grown generation of staff to build the new NHS.

The extra £2.5 billion we will put into the NHS – our Time to Care fund - will be focused on building the workforce of the future, trained to work differently.

People often ask me where the extra nurses and other staff will come from.

Today I want to answer that directly.

I don’t think there’s any shortage of young people who aspire to work in the NHS.

It’s just got harder to do it.

Courses are heavily over-subscribed and I meet many young people in my constituency who aspire to work for the NHS but struggle to see a route in.

The increase in tuition fees, combined with reductions in places, has left some feeling a nursing or midwifery course is too big a risk.

So they turn instead to care but find themselves stuck in dead-end, zero-hours jobs with little or no training or career prospects.

There are thousands of young people stuck doing these essential but difficult jobs left feeling forgotten and under-valued.

I want to make a very direct offer to them.

If you want to help build this new NHS and devote yourself to it, we will give you a ladder into it - not just to become a nurse or midwife but any of the disciplines that Whole Person Care will need in much greater supply: physios, OTs, speech and language therapists, mental health nurses, dieticians, therapists and counsellors.

So, for young people working as care assistants or healthcare assistants, we will create a specific new route, through an apprenticeship and technical degree to move into nursing or other clinical roles or into the 5,000 new NHS social care roles we will create to deliver our universal re-ablement service and improvements to end of life care.

Sometimes it might seem that the NHS - built by a generation long ago who came back from the war – doesn’t mean as much to today’s young people.

But I was struck by a recent poll which showed that young people today care just as passionately about the NHS as those who saw it come into being.

I think this might be because, in their world, so driven by markets and money, the NHS represents something different to them.

If the post-war generation was infused with the same defeatism about the future that defines our times, then one thing is clear: there would be no NHS.

So that’s our message to young people: come and help us build the NHS of the future. It is your NHS too and now your generation must rebuild it for your century.

So this is our plan to re-set the NHS and, through these five stage of reform, we hope to bring people behind it.

The contested reforms of recent times have frayed the fabric that has underpinned it.

The NHS urgently needs a new consensus if it is to have the public backing to reinvent itself as a 21st century service.

Ed Miliband and I believe the plan we are outlining today provides the basis for that.

Never again should the public’s most valued institution be changed without their consent, as happened after the last Election.

Going forward, people will need to be informed, consulted and involved at every stage.

That is why I have put forward our plans in such unprecedented detail before people vote.

And, if I am Health Secretary in May, I will write to everyone, just as Nye Bevan did, to explain what people can expect from the new NHS but also what will have to change.

But, as well setting out new rights, we need to be honest with people: the NHS won’t be able to do everything.

So we will ask people to accept new responsibilities to help the NHS survive in a more demanding century by, for instance: taking more responsibility for our own health and becoming more physically active; by doing more to look after our own families and neighbours; by not applying on-demand consumer expectations but taking out only what we need; and by accepting that hospitals will need to change if home-based care is to be a reality.

This will help re-set expectations and help NHS staff rise to the difficult challenge ahead.

We say this today to the other political parties: if you can’t sign up to our plan, produce your own in as much detail as ours. Give people a proper choice at this election.

That’s because the NHS is now at a crossroads and the country needs to have the debate about which path it should take.

Labour has made its choice: an NHS for the whole person, based on its enduring values: compassion over competition; collaboration over fragmentation; people before profits.

I am proud of the plan we are publishing today.

I have put everything I have got into it because nothing matters more to me and I know what it means to millions of others.

It is borne out of deep reflection, honest assessment of our mistakes but huge optimism for what the NHS can be in the future.

It can be what we want it to be, as good as we all want to make it.

I know you may not agree with everything I have said but, if you agree with the broad direction, get behind it.

The NHS can’t wait forever for a new consensus to emerge.

We must start building our national health and care service today.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Year Message

This article first appeared in the Leigh Journal.

As we come to the end of 2014, we can reflect on a year of good progress for Leigh.

It began with the opening of the impressive new Hanover Centre at Leigh Infirmary.

That was followed by the long-awaited start of work on the redevelopment at the top of Plank Lane.

And, of course, we finally waved goodbye to ‘Kamikaze Island’.

But, when all's said and done, one thing will will define 2014: it will go down as the year that, for one night only, Elton was a Leyther!

When I was first elected in 2001, I had high ambitions for Leigh. But, in truth, even I might have struggled to foresee how Leigh could ever play host to a global superstar before a 17500 strong crowd.

But we did - and, more than that, Leigh pulled it off in style.

Shortly after the big night, someone told me how they had seen Elton perform in Las Vegas just a few weeks earlier. They laughed when the remaining dates of Elton’s tour flashed up on the big screen: LA ... New York ... Leigh ...!

That unforgettable June night was the moment when the Leigh Sports Village truly came into its own and placed Leigh firmly on the map.

But the truth is Elton was not the only performer to light up the LSV. Leigh Centurions blazed a trail through the 2014 season and graced the LSV stage with perhaps their most exciting team for 30 years.

A couple of years ago, I ran a campaign for the return of promotion and relegation and I am pleased that, once again, the door to Super League is open to us.

So, your MP asks you to make one simple New Year's Resolution - let’s all of us get down to the LSV in 2015 and cheer our exciting young team back to Super League.

One dark spot on the year was the surprise decision by Wigan & Leigh College to pull the plug on A Level provision. It left many young people in the lurch.

We are waiting for the College to publish the findings of a review. But, whatever it concludes, I am clear about this: Leigh students should not have to get up at the crack of dawn and travel miles to do A levels. We want good A Level provision in the heart of our town and that is what I will campaign for in 2015.

Another challenging issue this year was HS2.

Before the close of the consultation, I organised a series of public meetings in Lowton and Golborne. What came over clearly was the high level of opposition to the proposed depot off Slag Lane. People felt it would destroy our green space and shatter our peace.

I listened and concluded they were absolutely right. Ever since, I have thrown whatever political weight I could muster into the campaign against the depot. I am pleased to say it seems we have won the day: the latest statement from HS2 says they are now looking at alternative sites. I will keep up the pressure in 2015 until it is finally confirmed.

There is another reason why transport will be the big issue of next year - it will finally see the opening of the Leigh Guided Busway.

Now I know it's the under-statement of the year to say people remain to be convinced about the Busway. I know that the disruption has been horrendous - particularly in Tyldesley - and we will continue to work hard to minimise it.

But here's a confident, if somewhat dangerous prediction, for 2015 - I think the Busway will turn out to be better than people think.

I understand people's scepticism as the busway was never my preferred option. That would have been a rail station or, failing that, Metrolink. But the technical and financial obstacles to both are huge and the truth is this: Leigh can’t wait forever for better public transport. We need it now.

Now that it’s coming, I think we need to seize the opportunity it presents for Leigh.

One of the big plus points of the busway is that it will be much cheaper than rail. A weekly return pass to Manchester will be around £14 or £15. That compares well with the £28 cost of a rail pass from Atherton. That will open up opportunities for young people in Leigh who struggle to run a car. All concessionary passes will be valid and pensioners will be able to travel for free with their bus pass.

Given that, I have no doubt that the Busway will bring shoppers back into Leigh.

People think of it only taking people away from Leigh. But I think it will work the other way round: Leigh and Tyldesley town centres will end up being the big winners. That's because, for anyone living on the guided section of the route, they can be in Leigh or Tyldesley in a matter of minutes with no traffic or hassle.

So, to coincide with the opening of the Busway, I want to launch a big ‘Come Back to Leigh’ marketing campaign. As part of the scheme, new investment is going in to the Leigh Bus Station and into the town centre. This is big chance to turn around the fortunes of the town centre and I am determined to make the most of it.

I think it's time to see the potential of the Busway rather than the problems. Already, there are signs that it will continue the regeneration of the town. Plans to turn Mather Lane Mill into flats - on the back of the Busway - are an exciting example of the wider benefits it will bring.

So there are grounds to be optimistic for our town as we head in to 2015. I remain as passionate as ever about my mission to restore its fortunes and am always grateful for the brilliant support you continue to give me.

Here's to a successful and prosperous 2015.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Letter to Jeremy Hunt over ambulance waiting times

Dear Jeremy


It is reported today that, last week, you took a decision that could have far-reaching implications for ambulance and A&E services this winter.

A leaked document obtained by the Mail on Sunday suggests that, on Monday 15 December, you approved a proposal to relax the Red 2 response time from 8 to 11 minutes for some calls and to 19 minute minutes for others.

I gather that you wanted the change to have immediate effect but that it has been delayed until the first week of January.

If this is correct, it represents a major change of policy for the ambulance service and a departure from long-established working practices. While there may well be a case for making such a change, it  could reasonably have been expected to be subject to careful consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny. Instead, it appears to have been rushed through, without due process, in response to the deteriorating situation in the NHS.

The leaked document makes specific reference to the unusual nature of this decision in terms of both timescale and process:

·         it notes the proposals have not had the "full breadth of exposure normally expected";
·         it makes clear that the discussion about the changes was limited to a narrow group of people and that the ambulance service as a whole was not consulted but instead presented with a fait accompli;
·         and it records the firm view of NHS England that any such changes should not be implemented until the next Parliament.

I believe these revelations raise major questions over: (a) the safety and continuity of services this winter; and (b) your own conduct and judgement.

You will recall that I wrote to you on Friday 12 December asking you to make a statement to Parliament before the break setting out your plans to deal with winter pressures. You failed to reply and so, on Thursday, you were required to come to the Commons to answer my Urgent Question. I remind you that it specifically asked you to outline to Parliament your plans for ambulance services this winter.

Given that this was three days after you had made your decision, I find it highly unsatisfactory that you made no mention of it in response to my question or to those of other MPs. This is all the more extraordinary when we discover from the document that ambulances services were given a deadline of noon on the same day to sign a letter to NHS England supporting the change. You have treated Parliament with contempt.

This decision has implications for the NHS in all parts of England. Members of Parliament should have been informed about it and given the opportunity to challenge it, particularly given the unusual nature of the way it has been made. Instead, you appear to have deliberately kept Parliament in the dark and given an incomplete answer to my question.

Given the seriousness of the situation now facing the NHS, and the need for people to have confidence in your public statements, it is imperative that you now correct this error of judgement and provide answers to these 10 questions:

1.   Is it correct that you approved this change on Monday 15th December?

2.   If it is, why did you make no mention of it when you answered my Urgent Question on Thursday 18th December and what justification do you have for withholding such important information from Parliament?

3.   Is NHS England in support of making this change now or does it still consider that a longer timetable is needed?

4.   What categories of patients will now be expected to wait longer for an ambulance as a result of this change and what evidence do you have that these longer waiting times are safe?

5.   Will you publish all evidence and advice, both clinical and operational, which you considered as part of your decision-making process?

6.   How many people were involved in the discussion of these changes, who were they and for how long was this matter under consideration?

7.   Did you receive any warnings on the risks of making these changes at short notice in the middle of a difficult winter and were any of the people you consulted opposed to your plans?

8.   Why were the 10 ambulance trust Chief Executives not fully consulted? 

9.   What plans do you have to communicate these changes to the public and the rest of the NHS?

10.                Are you confident that it is a safe and sensible course of action to continue to implement these changes in the first week of 2015 given that the vast majority of people working in the NHS have only found out about them today?

I expect nothing less than a full response today to each of these questions. If you do not have an acceptable reason for withholding information about your decision from Parliament, I suggest you should prepare to make a full apology to the House at the first opportunity after it returns from recess.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Labour will tackle scandal of cancer patients denied life-saving treatment

Today, I have announced a new cancer strategy to be published within six months of a Labour Government and a plan to tackle ageism in cancer treatment.

Labour will create a new annual Cancer Treatments Fund to improve access not just to the latest drugs but also to the latest forms of radiotherapy and surgery that are too often not available for thousands of people with cancer.

In a speech to the Britain Against Cancer conference, I commited the next Labour Government to creating a fund that starts in April 2016, when the Cancer Drugs Fund expires.

The current fund, which only pays for drugs, will come to an end in March 2016. The new annual fund would build on existing provision, but expand the scope of extra investment to improve access not just to drugs but also to radiotherapy and surgery - the two forms of treatment that are responsible for nine in 10 cases where cancer is cured.

In the move to the new fund, Labour would also guarantee that any patient in receipt of a drug from the Cancer Drugs Fund would continue to be offered that drug.

The new £330 million Fund will be created by adding £50m from the pharmaceutical industry rebate to the £280m-a-year Cancer Drugs Fund budget. Cancer experts will be consulted on the allocation of the resource and the best mechanisms for delivering it.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that while half of radiotherapy patients should receive Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), it is currently only received by a third. The number of patients receiving Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR), which treats lung and other cancers over a shorter length of time, fell by 10 per cent last year. Meanwhile, 124 patients were sent abroad to receive Proton Beam therapy last year as the NHS will not be able to deliver it until 2018.

A Labour Government will also publish a new cancer strategy within six months of the election. Separately, the Government will commission Cancer Research UK, the Royal College of Surgeons and other key stakeholders to lead a programme of work to make recommendations on addressing the under-treatment of older cancer patients.

The new Fund forms part of Labour’s 10-year plan to be the best in Europe on cancer survival and save up to 10,000 lives a year. It builds on Ed Miliband’s commitment earlier this year to guarantee patients a test and result within a week where cancer is suspected.

A Labour Government will also support Teenage Cancer Trust’s programme of awareness sessions on cancer, currently available in around 500 schools, and roll it out to the rest of the country.

My goal is to make the NHS the best health service in the world for the treatment of cancer. We will only achieve that if we give patients access to the most effective forms of treatment, including advanced radiotherapy.

The problem with cancer policy under the current Government is that it prioritises one form of cancer treatment over others and places one group of patients ahead of another. This is indefensible when we know surgery and radiotherapy are responsible for nine in ten cases where cancer is cured. It is not right that 40,000 people every year who could benefit from radiotherapy are missing out.

This is why Labour will build on the benefits of the Cancer Drugs Fund but extend the principles of improving access and supporting innovation to all forms of cancer treatment and all cancer patients.”

Too many young people are leaving education without knowing some of the basics about cancer and how to look out for the warning signs. Every young person should, as part of their education, have the opportunity to learn more and know where to go if they are worried. Teenage Cancer Trust is doing brilliant work in this area and with a bit more support from Government we can make their sessions available to every school in the country.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is evidence that too many older people are missing out on effective treatments. We need to eradicate any suggestion of ageism and the under-treatment that can result. That’s why the next Labour Government will launch an immediate programme of work led by the Royal College of Surgeons and Cancer Research UK to understand what’s happening in practice and make recommendations on tackling under-treatment.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Public Meeting Update - 8th November

Following the public meeting on 8th November TfGM have prepared response to questions raised with me by constituents.

You can view the replies at the two links below:

Link 1

Link 2

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Leigh Town Centre Business Forum Meeting

I would like to invite Leigh Town Centre Businesses to a meeting with me taking place on Friday 28th November, 2-3pm in Conference Room 2, Leigh Town Hall.

The aim of the meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the Town Centre and to gain business views.

If your business would like to attend please can you confirm your attendance via email.

If you would like to share your views but are unable to attend, please feel free to email me on the above email.

Please feel free to pass on this invitation to other town centre business owners you are in contact with.

Friday, 7 November 2014

2014 Veterans Luncheon

Pic with the Mayor of Wigan & the Fred
Longworth School Brass Band.
Today I hosted my 9th Annual Veterans Luncheon at Leigh Miners Welfare Institute.

Attended by over 150 local veterans I paid tribute to the contribution and sacrifice of veterans across the Leigh area.

Entertainment was provided by the award winning Fred Longworth School Brass Band with food supplied by Clapham's Bakery.

It is a fitting tribute to the men and women here today that we commemorate the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces at home and abroad and especially as we remember the outbreak of WWI 100 years ago. It is important that they are thanked for their contribution to their country.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Have your say!

Residents will be able to have their say on traffic management for the next stage of guided busway works on Astley Street at a public meeting.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is working with Wigan Council and myself to host the meeting, which will take place from 12pm in the main hall of Fred Longworth High School on Saturday 8 November.

I will chair the meeting which is a fully accessible meeting venue open to all, with no need to pre-register.

Officers and councillors from Wigan Council will attend, alongside representatives from TfGM, Balfour Beatty, and Urban Vision, who are managing busway works along the A580 on behalf of Salford City Council.

Officers will present the preferred option for traffic management on Astley Street and an open question and answer session will give people the chance to discuss the busway with the people responsible for delivering the scheme.

The work on Astley Street is due to start in December once Hough Lane has fully re-opened.
When complete, the busway will improve the frequency and reliability of bus journeys between Leigh, Tyldesley, Atherton and Manchester, with journey times of less than 50 minutes to and from the city centre.

More information about the busway – and the wider bus priority package – can be found here or by calling 0300 123 1177 (calls charged at local rate, lines open Monday – Friday, 9-5pm) or by email.        

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

My letter to David Cameron

Dear Prime Minister,

At Prime Minister’s Questions today Ed Miliband raised the serious issue of the English NHS and its increasingly precarious position after four years of this Conservative Government. Asked five questions about the English NHS, you failed to answer.

You were asked the following questions:
  • Why 16 leading health organisations representing doctors, nurses and patients are warning that health and social care services in England are “at breaking point”. You had no answer to their warnings about what's happening to the NHS on your watch. 
  • You were asked to confirm that in England we have the highest waiting lists for six years, the highest number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E for 10 years, the cancer treatment target missed for the first time ever and millions of people can’t get to see their GP. You had nothing to say on these facts which concern people across England.
  • You were asked about your top-down reorganisation of the NHS, which has wasted £3 billion. You didn't say whether you agree with a Cabinet colleague that it was a huge mistake.
  • You were asked about the warnings of the Conservative chair of the Health Select Committee about your funding plans and charging in the NHS. You had no answer to her views.
  • You were asked to support the NHS by funding one-week cancer testing with a levy on the tobacco companies and you wouldn't explain why you refuse to do so. 
These are serious issues which are of great concern to the public. On all of them you provided no answers. Instead you attempted to run away from your record on the NHS by launching another attack on the NHS in Wales.

The country and the NHS deserve better. Rather than indulging in smears and diversionary tactics you would be better advised to spend your time addressing the fact that the NHS is at breaking point under your Government.

As you yourself said in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, “the millions of voices of England must also be heard.” If these words are to mean anything at all then you must immediately address the issues you were asked about today.

Until you focus on saving rather than smearing the NHS, the public will be understandably confronted with the sad truth that all this Government offers is five more years of crisis in the health service.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Burnham MP
Shadow Health Secretary

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Transport Bosses take steps to cut congestion

Transport bosses say they’re doing all they can to cut congestion and minimise disruption in the east of Wigan Borough caused by construction work on the Leigh guided busway.

It follows a meeting called by myself and local councillors to address concerns raised by the public about traffic problems in Leigh, Astley and Tyldesley.

My constituents are fair-minded and often prepared to put up with a lot. But in recent weeks they have been saying “enough is enough”. Traffic congestion has gone way beyond acceptable levels and, together with local councillors, I called this meeting to give voice to the frustration that our constituents are feeling.

It was a positive meeting and I can assure people that those in charge of the busway construction are fully aware of how strongly people feel. It is clear mistakes have been made and we received assurances they will not be repeated. We also asked for a number of steps to be taken to improve the current situation as it clearly cannot continue. I have to say drivers are unlikely to see an improvement overnight but I am confident that we will get to a point where the level of disruption is more acceptable to the public. We have called a follow-up meeting next week and we will give people a further update after that.

Representatives from Wigan Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and busway contractor Balfour Beatty met with Mr Burnham and local ward councillors on Monday (October 13). A series of steps were agreed to combat congestion. They include:

No other non-busway road works to take place in the area except for emergency utility works needed to keep on gas, water and power supplies to homes.
A review of the plans to construct the busway and park and ride junctions on Astley Street in Tyldesley.
A review of temporary traffic management on the A580 to see if disruption can be reduced, including investigating whether some works can be rescheduled and carried out at weekends to minimise the impact on commuters.
Develop a single point of information for busway-related road works including improved coordination with the works in Salford.

It’s hoped these measures will relieve some of the difficulties drivers have been experiencing in the area in recent weeks.

Transport bosses insisted everything was being done to keep disruption to a minimum and lessen the impact on residents. But they agreed to look again at some of the plans for works being carried out in the coming weeks. TfGM, Wigan Council and Balfour Beatty have agreed to review again the options for completing the works on Astley Street and will present them at a second meeting organised for next Monday (October 20).

They also confirmed work on Hough Lane in Tyldesley, which is currently closed, was on track and should be completed on time allowing the road to reopen by the end of November.

Terry Dunn, director of environment at Wigan Council, said: “I want the public to know we are listening to their concerns. I know there have been unacceptable traffic delays in Leigh, Tyldesley and Astley recently and I’d like to apologise for that.

“This is a huge construction project taking place in an area with an aging infrastructure. The reason we’re building the busway is because we want to improve and invest in that infrastructure. This construction phase was always going to be extremely challenging and every effort has been made to ensure the impact is minimised.

“However, it’s clear the current situation cannot continue and we are going to explore every option open to us to see if we can reduce disruption further and cut congestion in the areas affected.”

Peter Boulton, head of programme management services at TfGM, said: “We fully appreciate the impact busway construction is having locally and we are committed to working with all our partners in Wigan and Salford to explore any options that will reduce that. We’ve had a positive meeting today and will continue to keep listening to local people and their representatives and, wherever possible, acting on their feedback.”

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Veterans Luncheon 2014

Pic. Veteran Luncheon 2013
I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting the 9th Annual Veterans Luncheon on Friday, 7th November 2014 at Leigh Miners Welfare Institute, Off Twist Lane, Leigh commencing at 12noon.

Veterans of HM Armed Forces who reside in the Leigh parliamentary constituency can confirm attendance by email or by calling my constituency office 01942 682353.

For catering purposes the last date for receipt of applications is 31st October.

The event will also mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and entertainment will be provided by the award winning Fred Longworth High School Brass band.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Labour Party Conference Speech


I’ve got a question for you.

Hands up how many of you would walk 300 miles to save the NHS?

Hands up how many of you actually have?

Leading from the front, speaking for millions – Conference, please show your appreciation for the Darlo mums and the People’s March for the NHS.

We have arrived at a big moment.

The Party that created the NHS in the last century today sets out a plan to secure it in this.

A rescue plan for a shattered service.

But more than that.

A vision for a 21st century NHS there when you need it, personal to you and your family, with time to care.

A national health and care service based on people before profits.

Today we place that proud Labour plan at the centre of our Election campaign.

And, thanks to Ed’s great speech, we have the money to back it up.

A plan worth voting for, proof that all parties are not the same, giving you a real choice over the future of your NHS.

Because it certainly didn’t happen last time.

Remember that solemn promise of “no top-down reorganisation”?

It was a bare-faced lie.

Days into office, the Tories set about dismantling your NHS.

And the plan that dared not speak its name before the last Election is now plain for all to see:

run it down

break it up

sell it off.

So today we serve notice on Cameron and Clegg: Thursday 7th May 2015 - your day of reckoning on the NHS.

A reckoning for trashing the public’s most prized asset without their permission.

And a reckoning for a ruinous reorganisation that has dragged it down and left it on the brink.

A winter crisis in A&E now a spring, summer and autumn crisis too.

Over three million people on NHS waiting lists.

Families waiting longer for cancer treatment to start – and the national cancer target missed for the very first time.

The NHS can’t take five more years of Cameron.

I could go on about the damage he’s done.

But let’s be honest – would that help people worried about where the NHS is heading and wanting real answers?

I know there will be families and carers out there watching us today wondering whether anyone really understands what their life is like.

Soldiering on from one day to the next, feeling invisible and taken for granted, ringing the surgery early in the morning but unable to get through, telling the same story to everyone who comes through the door.

You feel no-one listens – and no wonder.

So that’s why I’m going to do something different today.

I want to speak directly to you.

And to the parents of children with disabilities, for whom life feels like one long battle and who fret endlessly about what would happen to your son and daughter if you weren’t around to fight.

To the millions of you who face the daily worry and stress of arranging mum or dad’s care whilst trying to hold down a job.

And, most of all, to those of you who might be watching this alone at home fearing what the future might hold.

My message is simple:

Labour is with you.

Your worries are ours.

We know things can be better than they are.

We want an NHS that takes your worries away.

And we can achieve it if we do something bold.

The time has come for this Party to complete Nye Bevan’s vision and bring social care in to the NHS.

That allows us to rebuild our NHS around you and your family.

No longer ringing the Council for this, the NHS for that.

But one service, one team, one person to call.

An NHS for the whole person, an NHS for carers, an NHS personal to you.

At last, a National Health Service keeping you well, not a National Sickness Service picking up the pieces.

And an end, once and for all, to the scandal that is care of older and vulnerable people in England in 2014.
I ask you this:

How much longer will we say that people who are so frail that they need help with getting up, washing and eating, and who suffer from loneliness and isolation, are only worth a slap-dash 15-minute visit?

How much longer will society send out the message to young people looking after someone else’s mum, dad, brother or sister that it is the lowest form of work, lower than the minimum wage because it doesn’t pay the travel time between the 15-minute visits?

How much longer will we see these shameful scenes from care homes on our TV screens of people are being shouted at or abused and not say enough is enough?

And for how much longer, in this the century of the ageing society, will we allow a care system in England to be run as a race to the bottom, making profits off the backs of our most vulnerable?

If this Party is about anything, then surely it is about ending that.

I want you to understand why I feel like this.

About ten years ago, I saw my own mum ground down and worn out by the battle to get decent care for my gran.

She was in a nursing home where corners were often cut and where it was hard to get GPs to visit.

The decent people who worked there were let down by the anonymous owners who filled it with untrained, temporary staff.

My gran’s things often went missing and we had got used to that.

But I will never forget the day when we walked in to see her and her knuckle was red raw where her engagement ring had been ripped off.

Right there, right then - I made it my mission to end this scandal.

And the greatest sadness of all was that this so-called care cost my grandmother everything she and my granddad had worked for.

I know millions of families have been through the same or are going through it now.

People look to Labour to change these things and that is what we will do.

You know the Tories will never do it.

They put profits before people – always – it’s in their DNA.

Their answer is to let the market that has ripped through social care carry on ripping through the NHS.

Conference, we will do the precise opposite.

I am clearer about this than anything in my life – the market is not the answer to 21st century health and care.
People out there know a minimum-wage, zero-hours approach will never secure the care they want for their mum and dad.

So our 10 year plan for the NHS is founded on people before profits.

We will free the NHS from Cameron’s market and, yes, repeal his toxic Health and Social Care Act.

We will ask hospitals to collaborate once again and reinstate the NHS as our preferred provider.

The public NHS, protected with Labour.

Not for sale.  Not now, not ever.
Cemented at the core of every community so that it can then begin the job of bringing social care in and lifting it up.

Building a culture of respect for all people who care and ending the indignity of flying 15-minute visits.

Caring no longer a dead-end job but part of one workforce working to NHS standards.

But there is a reason why we give the public NHS such stability.

It is so that we can ask it to embrace radical change in the way it provides services to you and your family.
We will ask all hospital trusts to evolve into NHS integrated care organisations, working from home to hospital coordinating all care – physical, mental and social.


Because it makes no sense to cut simple support in people’s homes only to spend thousands keeping them in hospital.

We can’t afford it. It will break the NHS.

But, more, it’s not right for you.

The ever-increasing hospitalisation of older people is no answer to the ageing society.

Bringing social care in doesn’t add to the financial burden.

It is the key to unlocking the money.

But it will mean change and you need to know what that means for you.

Just as Nye Bevan wrote to every household to introduce his new NHS, so I will write again in 2015 to explain what people can expect from our national health and care service.

And this is what I will say.

For any family caring for someone with long-term needs, one team around you.

No longer should frail or vulnerable people be shunted around the system, from ambulance to A&E to noisy ward.

Instead, this team will come to you. Its goal will be to keep you in your own home, safe and well.

You and your carers will have one person to call to get help so no longer telling the same story over and over again.

You will have a care plan personal to you and your family.

If you and your carers get what you really need from the start, then it’s more likely to work.

Building the NHS around you will need a new generation of NHS staff, as Ed said yesterday.

So we will recruit new teams of home care workers, physios, OTs, nurses, midwives with GPs at the centre.

And will we have mental health nurses and therapists at the heart of this team, no longer the poor relation on the fringes of the system but making parity a reality.

And to make sure this investment is not creamed off by others, we will look at how we can ensure private health providers contribute their fair share towards the cost of training.

But, with the best will in the world, the NHS won’t be able to do it all.

That is why I can announce today a big change in the way the NHS supports carers so they can keep going.
No longer invisible but at the very centre of this new service.

So today we announce new support for carers:

The right to a break or respite care;

The right to an annual health check;

Help with hospital car parking for carers;

And we will go further.

We will give all families the right to care in their home, if they want it.

A national health and care service truly there from cradle to grave – from a new right to have a home-birth and a right to be in your own home at the end of your life, surrounded by the people you love, with your care free and no worry about its cost.

These are the things that matter and this is about an NHS there for you at the most important moments in life.

This is what people want and this is what becomes possible with our plan.
True whole person care – simply not possible in Cameron’s fragmented, privatised, demoralised service.

Make no mistake - this coming Election is a battle for the soul of the NHS.

The fight of our lives.

Now we must walk 300 miles for the NHS to every doorstep in the land.

With hope.

With pride.

With passion.

With a plan you can believe in.

But, in the end, this is about more than us.

This is about you.

Your children, your grand-children, your great grandchildren.

It’s about whether an NHS will still be there for them in their hour of need as it has been for you.

Don’t regret it when it’s gone. Join the fight for it now.

So I make this appeal to you.

Help the Party that founded the NHS give it a new beginning.

Help us make it the service we all want it to be.

An NHS that puts people before profit.

An NHS that cares for the carers.

An NHS there for your mum and dad.

An NHS with time to care.

An NHS for all of you.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The verdict from cancer experts is clear: David Cameron’s NHS re-organisation has damaged cancer care

Responding to a report from Cancer Research UK on how David Cameron’s NHS re-organisation brought confusion and a loss of leadership that is damaging cancer care makes devastating reading for David Cameron. The verdict from cancer experts is clear: David Cameron’s NHS re-organisation has damaged cancer care just as Labour always warned it would.

After a decade of progress, cancer patients are waiting longer for tests and treatment. This is causing huge anxiety for thousands of families and the most frustrating thing of all is that the Prime Minister was explicitly warned that this would happen but he chose to ignore it. His reorganisation disrupted the successful cancer networks and, in the words of the report, left a "vacuum" on the cancer agenda. This explains why the NHS is now missing the national cancer standard for the first time.

Cancer care has gone downhill under this Government and they have nobody but themselves to blame for that. David Cameron must urgently set out a convincing plan to halt the decline in cancer standards.

The most recent data from NHS England show that in the first six months of 2014, the NHS missed the target for 85% of cancer patients to begin treatment with 62 days of GP referral. It was missed in Q4 2013/14 and Q1 2014/15 - the first time since its introduction in 2009.

Monday, 4 August 2014


Later today, I will be attending services in Atherton and Leigh to commemorate the start of the First World War.

It has been moving to read stories from families across the country and, in my role as an Ambassador for the commemorations, I wanted to share mine.

Below is a letter from my great-grandfather Edmund Burke (Ned), a Private in the King’s Liverpool Regiment, sent in the summer of 1916 to his brother Walter back at home in Liverpool.

Ned was married to my great-grandmother Ellen Burke, who lived off Commercial Road, with their three daughters, Mary, Ellen and Katherine (my late grandmother). Her last memory of her father was from his final time on leave. He went to Goodison Park in the afternoon and she, with her sisters, did Irish dancing into the evening.

His letter is written in pencil and incomplete in places. It is telling for what it doesn’t say, with plenty of reassurance for his brother that things are fine. But Ned doesn’t hold back on one of the main controversies of the day – Ireland’s involvement in the War – and perhaps reveals a flash of the political streak that his great-grandson was to inherit.

The most poignant part of the letter comes towards the end, when Ned anticipates the forthcoming Battle of Guillemont. He was captured in that battle and held as a prisoner of war for the remainder of the war. He died in a concentration camp on October 28, 1918 – two weeks before the end of the war. Knowing what happened, it makes the letter hard to read and intensely moving.

I have visited Ned’s grave in the immaculate Cologne Southern Cemetery and, on behalf of my family, wish to thank the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the outstanding work they do honouring the memory of the hundreds and thousands like this humble and ordinary man from Liverpool who never returned home to his family.

Monday 4th August 2014


Friday July 27th

My loving Brother

Just a few lines to let you know that I am fine, hoping that you & your dear wife & children are the same. I wrote to you Walter during the week, I sent you a card, and you should have it by now.

Well Walter I saw Jack Mac yesterday and he looks fine to me, had a good laugh together all afternoon. I also saw Bartley Duffy & we were delighted to see each other, he is my old training pal. They look fine & in the 9th Kings, so you see Walter we are all in the pink. I could not see Joe Leatherbarrow, think he is in hospital with his arm. Johnny Westoff the Bookie looks fine & I am looking for Charlie Henry out of the 10th Scottish.

Well Walter I am in touch with Irish Division, Dublin & Connaughts & I had a good talk over Old Ireland. Walter, there’s thousands of Irish boys here & I may tell you it is God help the Boche if they come across them & then they say Ireland is not doing her share in this War. Also the Jocks are fine fellows here. I saw English nurses here last night with their steel helmets.

I hope you are exempted Walter. You will be sorry to hear about poor Tom Kiggins. Joe [ ] is fine and always asks about you.

I hope you are [unclear] Walter, the Boche will get the greatest thumping he ever got in this War.

I hope Liza is well and give her my best love also your fond children. Remember to the old boys, especially George McCarthy.

Mick Murphy is fine & glad to see that Joe is discharged. Mick is a toff Walter & smart soldier, full Corporal.

Well Walter by the time you get this letter big things will have happened here so I ask you to pray for me that God and his holy mother will protect me from all danger and that I may soon see you Walter is my sincere wish. Don’t worry Walter, my love to Liza & kids. God bless you & them.

I remain your loving brother,

Ned XX

PS Remember me to Bridget, she should have my letter. Sorry about Jack.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

HS2 Chief pressed to 'listen to Lowton' and drop depot plans

Last week I held face-to-face talks with the head of HS2 David Higgins and urged him to drop plans for a major depot to the north of Lowton and Golborne.

The Government's current proposals site what is a major industrial installation in an area of open countryside recognised for its scientific and environmental significance. When I consulted local residents on HS2 earlier this year, there was near-universal local opposition to the plan - even from supporters of HS2.

I asked David Higgins for a face-to-face meeting as I wanted to convey directly the strength of feeling of my constituents. I am grateful to him for giving me a hearing and listening to my concerns.

This is not about nimby-ism. Leigh and Lowton people are fair-minded and will always accept their share. But this is taking far too much from us. It will shatter our peace and destroy our precious green space.

Surely the preferred location for a facility of this kind should be a brownfield site, not an area designated by Wigan Council as its "Green Heart", bordering a Site of Special Scientific Interest and close to the historic Lightshaw Hall and Byrom Hall. It's hard to imagine a less appropriate site.

If it is ever built, this depot will be an industrial monstrosity looming large over Pennington Flash and the houses of nearby residents. Pennington Flash has become a significant visitor attraction and this would damage its appeal.

I have urged HS2 to listen to Lowton, go back to the drawing board and relocate this facility to a more appropriate site.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Matthew Gough is up for the challenge to raise funds for little known condition

Today I call on the Leigh public to get behind the fundraising efforts of a Lowton lad suffering from a chronic condition.

Matthew Gough suffers from Interstitial Cystitis (IC), a chronic inflammation of the bladder for which there is no cure. Matthew attends monthly at the Hanover Diagnostic Centre for treatment.

The 19 year old is studying Sports Psychology at UCLAN and will be pushing himself to the limit in a gruelling 140 miles run over 7 days to raise money for The Bladder & Bowel Foundation to aid research into IC and other bladder and bowel conditions.

The run will be coast to coast starting in Whitehaven and finishing in Tynemouth. Matthew is currently putting in the miles training and has an online Justgiving donation page.

Matthew Gough said, "I am completing this challenge for all the people who suffer from a bladder or bowel condition not just IC. Living with any chronic illness isn't just a physical challenge but a mental one also. I hope to raise money to support the great work the Bladder and Bowel Foundation do with their helplines and toilet card initiatives amongst other things. I also hope that I can raise more awareness of conditions like IC which are currently relatively unknown to the wider general public. Finally I'd like to thank all my family and friends for their continued support as well as Andy Burnham for his help in supporting my challenge. The training is tough and the challenge even tougher but it's all worth it if I can change just one person’s life for the better."

Just over a year ago Matthew was diagnosed with IC. Unfortunately IC is incurable and Matthew is having to undergo regular treatment whilst putting himself through a punishing training schedule to be able to run 140 miles in 7 days.

Matthew is a truly inspirational young man and I am calling on the great Leigh public to support him and his chosen charity to raise money to fund research into this chronic condition.

Matthew can be contacted on 07963513587 or by email. He is also on Twitter and facebook.

The Bladder and Bowel Foundation (B&BF) is the UK's largest advocacy charity providing information and support for anyone who has experienced a bladder control problem or bowel control problem or both. Central to the charity's work is its helpline providing medical advice and support.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Andy Burnham MP on board with Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign

I showed my support for a campaign led by the charity Guide Dogs to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.

I attended a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2 July in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.

The reception highlighted how announcements enable blind and partially sighted people to understand their location, and prevent them from missing their stops.

AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.

Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet.

Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted to be able to travel safely and independently.”

Without AV, bus travel for people with sight loss can be especially difficult, stressful, and dangerous when stops are missed and they end up in an unfamiliar area.

Safe and accessible bus services give people with sight loss much greater freedom to work, socialise and participate in the community.