£100m drive to recruit cancer nurses to work in patients' homes

Specialist personal nurses are to offer free one-to-one care to cancer patients in their own homes in England, according to Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown: one-to-one care is how other services will be developed in future
Gordon Brown: one-to-one care is how other services will be developed in future

Labour's plans were due to be unveiled in a speech to The King's Fund in central London today (Monday), and are expected to cost £100m over five years to pay for extra nurses.

Reducing the need for hospital admissions and emergency incidents for long-term conditions generally is expected to eventually save £2.7bn a year.

Mr Brown told The Observer: ‘Instead of arriving at a hospital and hoping to see the nurse or doctor you had before, that nurse will stay with you. And that nurse would be able to help you at home as well as when you arrive at the hospital. This one-to-one care is how we plan to develop lots of other services in the future.'

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: ‘We are delighted that the government is pledging to invest in specialist nurses, as we know that their value for patients is both unparalleled and cost effective.

‘Investing in specialist nurses now is crucial not just to patients but to reduce the costs to the NHS from unnecessary complications.

‘Specialist nurses can help all cancer patients to deal with their emotions, avoid unnecessary complications and have a high quality of life.'

The Conservatives questioned how Labour would fund the initiative. Andrew Lansley, Conservative shadow health secretary, said: ‘Just last year Labour cut the amount the NHS spent on each cancer patient by £650. Given that we know that Labour is planning even further cuts to NHS spending in the years ahead, I'm worried that it is not going to be straight with the public. It is very difficult to see how they will be able to fund their pledge for one-to-one nursing.'

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