Ed Miliband unveils Labour’s election manifesto in Manchester, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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6.37pm: Andy Burnham also said in our exclusive interview that a Labour government would view health and social care as a single budget and would support NHS money being spent on care services, and pledged the party would protect funding for social care “as best we can”.

6.30pm BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: Andy Burnham has said the NHS Five Year Forward View left “many big questions unanswered” and Labour would not be setting the health service “on the right path” by adopting it without making “other fundamental change”.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ and sister title Local Government Chronicle, the shadow health secretary said the forward view’s assumptions were based in part on current government policies, which a Labour administration would change.

He also said the party would not to “get drawn into a bidding war” with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who he accused of trying to “shift goal posts” in the argument around how much more money the NHS needs.

Read the full interview here.

4.35pm The King’s Fund has commented on Labour’s health plans. Chief executive Chris Ham said:

“Labour’s manifesto outlines a positive vision for a 21st century health and care system based on much closer integration of health and social care. It also marks a decisive break with the policies of the recent past in its rejection of markets and competition.

“It is hard to see how Labour’s plans to dismantle the Health and Social Care Act could be achieved without disruptive structural changes to the NHS. Proposals to bring services and budgets together at a local level are welcome, although we question whether health and wellbeing boards could play the leadership role envisaged.

“The big question is about funding, with Labour now the only one of the three main parties not to have pledged to find the £8 billion a year in additional funding called for in the NHS five year forward view. Given this is the minimum requirement if the NHS is to continue to meet patient needs and maintain standards of care, this leaves a significant gap at the heart of its plans. Labour is also the only one of the main parties not to have endorsed the programme for change outlined in the Forward View.

“Pledges to improve the quality of home care and implement the cap on the costs of social care first proposed by the Dilnot Commission are welcome. However, although a growing social care crisis is identified as one of the biggest challenges facing the next government, there is no commitment to increase social care funding.”

2.05pm Here’s a couple of other things we’ve found in the Labour manifesto. There’s a reference to involving communities more in decisions taken about NHS reconfigurations (though very little detail).

“We will give English people a stronger voice in shaping the future of their local NHS services. Patients and the public will have a seat at the table from the very start of any process that draws up plans for change, including changes to hospital services.”

2.00pm A bit of fun from Incisive Health (which might inform how you vote, you never know…). Their Health Policy Compass is supposed to show which UK-wide party most closely reflects your views on health.

1.44pm There’s already been some interest on Twitter in Labour’s plan for a Centre for Universal Health Coverage. This was retweeted by a certain former chief executive of NHS England earlier this afternoon…

1.28pm Mike Birtwistle of Incisive Health has written for HSJ on the politics on the NHS funding row between Labour and the Conservatives.

He argues the Conservatives’ decision to commit to the totemic £8bn called for by Simon Stevens, and Labour’s refusing to match it, says “more about the parties’ respective weaknesses than they do about their strengths”.

On the Tories he says: “The Conservatives know they cannot hope to win on health, but by making this commitment they hope to neutralise Labour’s strongest issue.

“That they have done so without explicitly finding the money to pay for the commitment shows both the depth of their concern about their position on health and the strength of their confidence about the public’s trust in their financial competence.”

On Labour he says: “Labour is essentially borrowing from its NHS credibility to bolster is reputation for fiscal prudence.

“Cutting the deficit requires some political as well as financial pain. Whether some pain on the NHS delivers much gain on economic reputation remains to be seen.”

1.13pm Labour has pledged to avoid ‘extreme’ cuts to social care in the next parliament in order to improve quality of care and prevent further pressure on the NHS.

However its manifesto does not give any further details as to the levels of cuts that could be expected under a Labour government.

The manifesto pledges that all people with complex needs will have a single point of contact for their care and a personalised care plan.

It says health and wellbeing boards will be supported to “become a vehicle for system leadership” but adds that integration “cannot be imposed by top-down edict” and “must be driven at local level”.

Communities will be encouraged to consider the appropriate model for their area “bringing budgets, commissioners and providers together”, led by HWBs. Providers will be incentivised to focus on prevention through year of care budgets, while health and social care outcomes frameworks will also be integrated to “better coordinate performance monitoring across health and care”.

1.00pm There’s a couple of intriguing references to health outside of the main NHS section in Labour’s manifesto.

This is form the section on international development:

“We will establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage to provide the support, encouragement, and global partnerships needed to help countries provide free healthcare.”

12.56pm Uncertain about where Labour stands on health? Here’s our coverage of the part of their manifesto dedicated to the NHS.

12.42pm And here’s what he said about Labour’s own health policies:

“We need an NHS with time to care for us all.

“That’s why it’s right to ask those who can to pay a little bit more.

“With a crackdown on tax avoidance, a levy on the tobacco companies and a mansion tax on the most expensive properties, worth over £2 million.

“For a properly costed, fully funded, plan.

“For more doctors, nurses, midwives and homecare workers.

“And that’s why too, it is right to call a halt to David Cameron’s privatisation of the NHS.

“With a cap on private profits in our health service.

“And the abolition of their terrible Health and Social Care Act.

“We will put the right values back at the heart of our National Health Service.”

12.39pm Here’s what Ed Miliband said about the NHS when he launched his manifesto this morning.

He attacked the Conservatives on their pledge to fund the £8bn called for by the Forward View without setting out where the money would come from.

“Nothing is more dangerous to our NHS than pretending you will protect it without being able to say where the money is coming from.

“You can’t fund the NHS with an IOU.

“This is the road that leads only to broken promises and working people paying the price with higher taxes and public services undermined”.

12.09pm The Times has several letters from readers about the NHS election promises currently being made by Labour and the Conservatives.

One reader says he has voted Conservative since the 1950s but is now unsure after George Osborne “squirmed” when asking about how he would pay for £8bn of funding for the NHS.

Another reader says none of the party leader have “demonstrated the courage and knowledge” to solve the problems of the NHS.

A doctor says that while Ed Miliband has said the NHS cannot be funded on an IOU, he has “forgotten” that between 1997 and 2010 “Labour did exactly that – by building hospitals under private finance initiative schemes”.

12.08pm MRI scans to test for prostate cancer will improve treatment and spare thousands of men needless surgery, a study suggests.

The Times reports (paper only) that combining MRI with ultrasound markedly improved the detection of tumours and helped doctors to pick out the most aggressive cancers. They hope the method could permit men with less threatening cancers to avoid gruelling surgery or radiotherapy while creating “tumour maps” to allow more accurate treatment.

12.07pm The Times reports that the Conservatives are failing to convince voters that they would support the NHS, despite the promise of £8bn extra funding.

A poll by YouGov shows that Tory efforts to neutralise Labour’s advantage on the health service have yet to bear fruit.

In total, 43 per cent of voters said that the health service would get worse under a Conservative government, compared with 25 per cent for Labour.

12.03pm The Daily Telegraph reports that the health service could face its largest tribunal pay out, and total costs of up to £20m, over the suspension and sacking of a whistleblowing doctor.

Documents lodged by Dr Raj Mattu, a cardiologist who lost his job at a Coventry hospital after warning that patients were dying on an overcrowded cardiac unit, show he has submitted a claim for damages of more than £6.5 million.

An estimated £10 million has already been paid by taxpayers in the longest-running whistleblowing case in NHS history.

Dr Mattu was first suspended for almost eight years and then sacked by the NHS trust which ran the hospital, which had some of the highest death rates in the NHS.

11.48am If you want to read Labour’s manifesto, it’s now available here.

11.26am Ed Miliband is currently launching the Labour manifesto and has just got on to the NHS.

He says Labour’s extra £2.5bn to fund more health professionals is the “rescue plan” that the NHS needs.

“We’ll call time on David Cameron’s privatisation of the NHS,” he says.

11.19am The Guardian reports that nearly a fifth of women diagnosed with breast cancer after noticing a potential symptom waited more than a month before seeing their GP, according to YouGov poll commissioned by the charity Breast Cancer Care.

The charity’s chief executive Samia al Qadhi said: “There have been many awareness raising campaigns around breast cancer symptoms, but our survey suggests that the job still isn’t done.

“The sooner a cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment is likely to be, so it is extremely concerning that some women are waiting more than six months to visit their GP after finding a breast symptom.”

11.08am The Daily Mail splashes with a story that patients will have to “take their passport to hospital as part of a clampdown on health tourism”.

It reports that patients at outpatient clinics and in A&E will have to fill in forms stating their passport number and expiry date, and say how much time they have spent abroad, if they are to be admitted to a ward”.

10.55am The FT has got a good leader today which is very much in line with HSJ’s #respect4managers campaign.

The paper argues that the challenges that face the NHS “bear little relation to the bugbears politicians habitually raise at election time” such as “bureaucrats tying up hospitals in red tape” and a “private sector rapaciously profiting from the public purse”.

The leader points out that 6 per cent of NHS work is handled by the private sector and 3 per cent of NHS staff work in management.

“Neither of these numbers is excessive,” it argues.

It adds that imrprovements to the NHS will come from “inspired local leadershipm which the government should be doing what it can to encourage”.

It mentions the improvements acheived at Salford Royal Foundation Trust and points out that the individual leading those changes, Sir David Dalton, “is himself one of those bureacrats”.

10.36am The FT reports that London’s £1.5bn private hospital market has beaten the recession by attracting wealthy patients from overseas, growing by about 9 per cent a year since 2006, according to a report by Laing Buisson.

10.25am The Financial Times reports that Labour are launching their election manifesto today, which includes a new “budget responsibility lock” in an effort to portray the party as fiscally responsible.

The party has so far refused to follow the Conservatives in committing an extra £8bn to the NHS by 2020.

The Conservatives have not set out how they will fund the pledge.

10.08am Over the weekend there were a number of NHS-related announcements made by the Conservative and Labour parties, ahead of the 2015 general election.

The Conservatives’ election manifesto will commit to a “minimum real terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn” by 2020 which they say is a firm promise to fund the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Chancellor George Osborne wrote in The Guardian: “I can confirm that in the Conservative manifesto next week we will commit to a minimum real terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn in the next five years.”

Meanwhile, Labour launched its health manifesto and accused the Conservatives of making “unfunded commitments”.  

Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow heath ministers Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall launched the document, a key cornerstone of the party’s general election manifesto, in Leeds on Saturday.

You can also have a read through HSJ’s rolling coverage of the parties’ pre-election announcements in our special weekend edition of HSJ Live.

10.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live.

We begin with the exclusive news that the closure of two care homes has been blamed for a high rate of delayed transfers of care in Dorset.

The local mental health provider is the only foundation trust in breach of Monitor’s target for delays, HSJ can reveal.