Statement from co-leader of the National Health Action Party, Dr Clive Peedell, on Ed Milband's conference speech on the NHS:
"It's heartening that Ed Miliband is hearing our message about stepping up to the plate on the NHS.
His announcements on increasing tax and cracking down on tax dodging to plug the NHS funding gap are two of the measures we called on him to guarantee when we wrote to him ahead of the Labour party conference.
A return to a properly staffed NHS is crucial too and is another of the NHA's key demands. This is a good start.
But it's only a start. Mr Miliband needs to go further, not only because his pledges may not be sufficient to to plug the NHS funding gap, but also for the sake of patients.
As we wrote to Mr Miliband, the only true way to save the NHS is to abolish the competitive market system with its associated extortionate and burdensome bureaucratic structure, which is estimated to be costing at least £5 billion a year and which has led to hospital closures and service cuts and a serious deterioration in patient care.
Eliminating the wasteful NHS market has to go hand in hand with forcing business and the wealthy to pay their fair share.
Mr Miliband said nothing about another vital area of concern which is haemorrhaging NHS money - the scandal of PFI contracts. The total cost of PFI to the NHS is now in excess of £70 billion with the annual cost put at more than £2 billion, and which is bankrupting trusts and leading to hospital closures.
In addition, we wanted but failed to hear from Mr Miliband a strong commitment to tackling the social determinants of health, so fundamental to improving the health of the nation and reducing demand on the NHS. Yet, Labour’s continued support for austerity policies, as confirmed on Monday by Ed Balls, will only worsen wealth and health inequalities, fuelling rather than solving the problem, and ignores important evidence to support an increase in healthcare spending as a way of boosting economic growth.
Furthermore, the continuing cuts year by year in local government are undermining any possibility of integrating services and improving social care. Therefore Labour must reverse these cuts too."