GPs central to Labour plans for integrated care, says Burnham

GPs will be at the centre of Labour's plans to create integrated care organisations, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has confirmed.

Andy Burnham: battle for soul of NHS (Photo: Charlie MacDonald)
Andy Burnham: battle for soul of NHS (Photo: Charlie MacDonald)

Under plans reported earlier today by GP magazine, Mr Burnham said a Labour government will ask hospitals trusts and other NHS bodies to ‘evolve into NHS integrated care organisations, working from home to hospital, co-ordinating all care - physical, mental and social'.

There were few surprises in the Labour shadow health secretary's address to the party’s annual conference in Manchester on Wednesday, which built on longstanding plans for integrated health and social care, and covered policy that has emerged over the past few days on the conference fringe.

The former health secretary received a standing ovation when he repeated his promise to repeal the ‘toxic’ Health and Social Care Act 2012. He again set out plans to make public NHS bodies preferred providers for services.

Battle for soul of NHS

The coming election, he said, was a ‘battle for the soul of the NHS’. The speech came after party leader Ed Miliband yesterday announced an annual £2.5bn NHS fund to be raised from a mansion tax, a levy on tobacco firms and a clampdown on tax avoidance.

The fund will pay for 8,000 new GPs as well as 20,000 more nurses, 5,000 more careworkers and 3,000 more midwives, the party leader said.

Mr Burnham told party delegates his new integrated health and care service would mean patients and carers no longer having to retell their stories over and over again. ‘You and your carers will have one person to call to get help,' he said.

‘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.’

GPs would be employed by the new integrated organisations as salaried doctors, Mr Burnham has said.

He would ensure private providers ‘contribute their fair share towards the cost of training’.

Integration right for patients

Integration, he said, would mean people could be supported in their homes rather than hospitalised, saving money and doing what is right for patients.

The Tories had told a ‘bare-faced lie’ before the last election when they said there would be no top-down reorganisation, Mr Burnham said.

‘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.’

‘My message is simple,' said Mr Burnham, addressing patients. ‘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.

He added: ‘The time has come for this party to complete Nye Bevan’s vision and bring social care in to the NHS.’

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