by Keith Richmond
HEALTH Secretary Alan Johnson says he wants the Next Stage Review of the NHS to include â€œeveryone involved in the health serviceâ€ to help tackle the â€œnew challenges of an ageing population and rising expectationsâ€.
Mr Johnson told conference: â€œThis is an unprecedented opportunity to shape an NHS which is clinically-led and locally-driven and focused on a personalised service for the patient. And to achieve this, the Government needs to get behind health staff, not stand in their way. Because their public service ethos is the life force of the NHS.â€
He promised 1,000 extra midwives by 2009 and more after that if birth rates continue to rise. He pledged personal safety alarms to NHS staff as part of a Â£97 million boost for NHS security. And he said GP surgeries should be open at times to suit the patient, not the practice.
Mr Johnson said Labour is determined to tackle inequalities in healthcare. â€œThere can be no more chilling example of inequality than someone’s place of birth determining the timing of their death. But a woman from the poorest social class is 19 times more likely to die in childbirth than someone from the richest.â€
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: â€œIt was very refreshing to hear a health secretary talk about real issues. I sense a welcome â€“ and long overdue â€“ change of tone. We were really pleased that Alan made no mention of markets, competition and choice in improving our health service.â€