7 Jun 2011

David Cameron’s five NHS pledges

As part of the Government’s campaign to build support for its controversial NHS reforms, the Prime Minister has made five pledges on the future of the health service.

The NHS: David Cameron will reassure the public the NHS will not be sold-off (Getty)

The Prime Minister’s pledges include commitments to increase spending and maintain universal healthcare coverage, while at the same time promising the NHS will not be transformed into an American-style private system.

And David Cameron is to be “personally accountable” for ensuring that the guarantees on the NHS in England are met.

But Labour said that he had already failed to protect NHS spending, resulting in “chaos, confusion and damage to patient care”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said this morning that Mr Cameron’s decision to issue his own guarantees showed how much trouble he was in over health reform.

“David Cameron is the first Prime Minister in history to be forced to set out five pledges to protect the NHS from his own policies. Yet he has already broken two of those pledges,” he said.

“The number of people waiting 18 weeks for treatment has gone up. He has not protected the health service budget. He has spent a year mismanaging the NHS.”

Mr Cameron has insisted that NHS modernisation remains essential to stop the service “buckling” under the strain of dealing with the demands of an ageing population.

At the same time he acknowledges the need for the Government to take both the public and healthcare professionals with them over the reforms, which would hand over commissioning powers to GPs and extend private sector provision.

But following the two-month “pause” in the Health and Social Care Bill – to enable further consultation on the proposals – the Prime Minister says there has been growing support for “the thrust of what we are proposing”, pointing to backing from the Royal College of Surgeons and GPs representing 1,100 practices across England, as well as patient groups like Saga and Age UK.

David Cameron's five guarantees:
- Not to endanger universal coverage - ensuring that it remains a NHS.
- Not to break up or hinder efficient and integrated care, but to improve it.
- Not to lose control of waiting times, ensuring they are kept low.
- Not to cut spending on the NHS, but to increase it.
- Not to sell-off the NHS but to ensure competition benefits patients.

“These are my five guarantees. Guarantees you can hold me to and that I will be personally accountable for,” he says, according to an advance extract of his speech.

“Yes, we will modernise the NHS – because changing the NHS today is the only way to protect the NHS for tomorrow.

“But I will make sure at all times that any of the changes we make to the NHS will always be consistent with upholding these five guarantees.

“There can be no compromise on this. It’s what patients expect. It’s what doctors and nurses want. And it’s what this Government will deliver.”