Prime minister Gordon Brown promises NHS renewal

Prime minister Gordon Brown has spelt out his plans for the 'renewal' of the NHS, promising 'deeper and wider reform' and the 'replacement' of poorly performing providers.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

In a widely trailed speech at Kings College London today, he said the NHS would aim to focus as much on prevention as cure, providing a personal as well as universal service, and empower patients to take more control over their own health and healthcare.

He said he would see through the ‘controversial’ extension of practice opening hours, and gave a list of new initiatives that health secretary Alan Johnson would launch during 2008:

• access to check-ups that empower patients and their clinicians;
• access to screening and preventive vaccines;
• and decisive action against failing services - whether in hospitals or primary care;
• a statement - through an NHS constitution - of rights and responsibilities in healthcare;
• help for individuals and families as they strive to lead healthier lives.

Mr Brown said health professionals would become champions and advocates of patients: ‘The doctor not just physician but adviser; the nurse not just carer but trainer; patients more than consumers - partners.’

New screening initiatives would include ‘everyone in England to have access to the right preventative health check-up,’ ultrasound testing for abdominal aortic aneurysm, and ‘check-ups’ to monitor for heart disease, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease.

He added: ‘We will extend the availability of diagnostic procedures in the GP surgery - making blood tests, ECGs and in some cases ultrasounds available and on offer not only when you are acutely unwell or if you can pay, but when you want and need them, where you need them, at the local surgery.’

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