The prime minister will set out to reassure patients and healthcare professionals that the NHS remains safe in his hands by offering five personal “guarantees” at a keynote speech later today.
They include commitments to increase spending and maintain universal healthcare coverage, while at the same time promising that it will not be transformed into an American-style private system.
Mr Cameron will declare that he would be “personally accountable” for ensuring that the guarantees were met.
But Labour said that he had already failed to protect NHS spending, resulting in “chaos, confusion and damage to patient care”.
In his speech, Mr Cameron will insist that NHS modernisation remains essential to prevent the service “buckling” under the strain of dealing with the demands of an ageing population.
At the same time he will acknowledge 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 government’s six-week “pause” in the Health and Social Care Bill - to enable further consultation on the proposals - he will say there has been growing support for “the thrust of what we are proposing”.
He will point 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.
However, he will also signal the government’s willingness to make changes, saying: “We’ve learnt a lot about how to make our plans better”.
In his five guarantees, he will promise:
- Not to endanger universal coverage - ensuring that it remains a National Health Service;
- 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 and create “some American-style private system”, 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 will say, 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.”