Gordon Brown will promise a “personalised” revolution in health and social care today (Monday), with one-to-one support at home for all cancer patients.
In a major pre-general election speech, the Prime Minister will insist that “take it or leave it” public services are no longer good enough, and people want provision that is “responsive to their choices”.
“In the NHS as well as through a new national care service we want to extend the offer of care in the home,” Mr Brown will say.
“Choice, control and personalisation is not just something for the young - the choices people make later in their lives might be different, but the right to a choice, to personalised care is just as important if not more so.”
Addressing an audience at health think-tank the King’s Fund, Mr Brown will pledge a broad reform of community healthcare, giving people the option of chemotherapy and dialysis without having to travel to a clinic or hospital.
It would also be easier to access palliative care and care for the elderly at home.
Committing to ensure that within the next five years 1.6 million cancer sufferers have access to one-to-one nursing care in their homes, Mr Brown is to say: “When faced with the fears and uncertainties of a serious illness, dedicated nursing, such as that provided by Macmillan nurses, has the potential to transform the experience of care for the patient and their family too.
“Not just improving the outcomes of care, but helping them to understand their choices and options.
“At the centre of our vision to transform community services will be a commitment to dedicated nursing for those who need it. And nowhere is this more crucial than for cancer patients.”
Mr Brown will add: “Our plans for an improved offer for patients with long-term and chronic conditions will mean fewer people needing to suffer acute admissions to hospital, and many more of those who are elderly and frail avoiding emergencies.
“If we are successful we believe we can improve millions of lives and save more than £2 billion over the next three years all of which can be reinvested into the NHS, into services such as new dedicated nursing.”
He will say: “People want public services that are not take it or leave it but personal to their needs; tailored to their aspirations and responsive to their choices and decisions about how they want to run their own lives.”
Mr Brown will also stress the need to focus on early intervention and prevention, insisting: “By better preventive care we believe we can save 10,000 lives through a greater focus on early detection of cancer and a guarantee of one-week cancer tests.
“We believe we can prevent as many as 10,000 heart attacks and strokes each year through a guarantee of health checks on the NHS for those over 40.”
He will also make an appeal to the elderly by claiming that the UK’s ageing population could be a “positive change”.
“Too often the change to an older society is seen by our sometimes youth-obsessed culture as a threat or a burden,” Mr Brown will say.
“As a country we need to recognise that it has the potential to be a far more positive change affecting not just our public services but also the shape and character of our society...
“More children will know their grandparents and even their great grandparents. We will see a much bigger role for extended families.
“And with new opportunities in later life, to work and volunteer, and generally contribute in retirement, our older people can find themselves much more at the heart of our communities, and less and less isolated on the fringes.”
However, opposition parties were already questioning where the funding would come from for the new initiatives.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We support the principle of giving every cancer patient their own nurse. But I am surprised that Labour are able to find money to fund this new pledge when they are planning to cut the NHS budget.
“Gordon Brown needs to make clear to patients which other schemes he plans to cut in order to fund this new initiative.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “No one denies that cancer suffers deserve the best possible care and that this is an attractive proposition, but the obvious question is has it been properly thought through and how exactly will it be funded?
“With only months until an election must be called this reeks of yet another desperate pre-election bribe by Labour.”