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NHS changes could save thousands of lives, says Lansley

12 July 2010

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A new framework for the NHS could save thousands of lives each year by focusing on results for patients rather than Labour’s top-down targets, the health secretary is to announce.

The revamp could see 20,000 deaths from cancer and strokes avoided annually with the NHS more accountable against “outcomes” like survival rates, Andrew Lansley is due to say as he launches a health white paper.

He believes many UK health outcomes like stroke and cancer survival rates lag behind other European countries.

Labour’s top-down targets “get in the way”, preventing health professionals reaching the levels of success of their European counterparts.

While investment has been brought into line with Europe under the previous government, the number of lives saved has not, the health secretary will say.

“Over nine years ago, Tony Blair committed the government to matching European levels of health spending. Today, that pledge has been delivered,” he will say.

“But do the results for patients match the increase in spending?

“That is what the previous government’s regime of top-down process targets and central bureaucratic control of the NHS was supposed to ensure.

“However, many of our health outcomes – including stroke and cancer survival rates – lag behind our European counterparts.

“We will get rid of the top-down process targets which get in the way, improving patient care.”

Ahead of the white paper, Mr Lansley said he would cut £1bn from NHS bureaucracy and use it to improve frontline services.

GPs will be given a far greater role in commissioning services for their patients. Patients will be given more choice and control of their care.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the plans made him “want to weep”.

“What you have got about to happen with this Tory white paper is all of this painstaking work to put that complicated jigsaw into place of a health service that really is an outstanding health service: Mr Lansley is about to pick up that jigsaw and throw it all up in the air,” he said.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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