Alan Johnson tells Labour it's time to 're-engage' with clinicians

Health secretary Alan Johnson wants a ‘clinically-led and locally-driven NHS’, he told the Labour party conference today.

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
Mr Johnson told delegates at Brighton that the NHS had required intensive care in 1997, when Labour took power. But having increased the capacity of the service, they could now concentrate remorselessly on quality, access and personal service.

He said his Next Stage Review of the NHS would ensure that everyone involved in the health service could discuss how to build on the past ten years of investment and reform.

?’The review will focus on how we continue to deliver improvements across the service by re-engaging and working in partnership with patients, doctors, nurses and other practitioners.

?’This is an unprecedented opportunity to shape an NHS which is clinically-led and locally-driven, constantly focused on a personalised service for the patient.

‘Centralising care where necessary, for instance for stroke and cancer patients. But localising where possible, so that patients can be treated closer to home. ??To achieve this, government needs to get behind health staff, not stand in their way. Their public service ethos is the life force of the National Health Service.’

Mr Johnson also promised more GPs practising in the most deprived communities, and that GP surgeries would be open at times and in locations that ‘suit the patient, not the practice’.

Pharmacies, sports centres and walk-in centres could do much more to provide primary care effectively and conveniently, he said. There would also be faster progress on tackling obesity in children and adults, a new deal for carers and a fresh approach on mental health.

He said that Labour would preside over a ‘continued renaissance’ in the NHS.

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘The health secretary spoke about the need for GP surgeries to be open in places and at times that suit patients. GPs are already working extremely hard to benefit their local populations and a recent government survey showed that well over eight out of ten patients were satisfied with access to their practices.

‘It is ironic that on one hand Mr Johnson talks about clinical engagement and yet when it comes to GP hours he does not approach the BMA. We are always willing to talk to the health secretary about how the service we provide can be improved but obviously increased opening times and services need considerable resources.’

General secretary of the RCN Dr Peter Carter said: ‘Alan Johnson's words today are a welcome sign that this government is putting the NHS, its patients and staff where it should be and where the public want it; at the top their agenda and at the centre of their thinking’.

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