PM promises one-to-one home care for cancer patients
The prime minister has pledged to introduce one-to-one support at home for all cancer patients if the government stays in power after the forthcoming general election.
Gordon Brown made the pledge during a speech at the health think-tank the King's Fund, during which he set out plans to provide more choice, control and personalisation in health and social care.
Acknowledging the fact that Britain's population is ageing, the prime minister said that the NHS and care system need to change to meet this growing demand.
He claimed that people want a service that is "personal to their needs, tailored to their aspirations and responsive to their choices", while still being affordable and cost-effective.
Gordon Brown told the audience: "We must push forward with new and ever more stretching guarantees to secure for every family the right to get the best possible personalised health care when and where they need it.
"Perhaps the greatest potential to transform the experience of patients is access to personalised one-to-one care when they are most in need," he continued.
"Our plans to reform our community and primary care services will include a commitment to deliver over the next five years dedicated nursing for all cancer patients - a commitment that we expect will benefit around 1.6 million patients, offering truly first class care in their own homes."
The Department of Health and the NHS will work in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to deliver this commitment.
The prime minister also highlighted the need to focus "far more on prevention and early intervention" and restated that Labour would extend the Cancer Guarantee - which gives anyone with suspected cancer the right to see a specialist within two weeks of diagnosis - to ensure that all cancer tests are completed and results given within just one week.
"We now know the evidence - early screening, early diagnosis and early treatment mean that instead of cancer of the breast or bowel being the death sentence it once was, survival rates in excess of 90 per cent are now possible," he explained.
"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."
Mr Brown also pledged to support Marie Curie Cancer Care, which has been working to ensure that everyone who wants to die at home has the right to do so.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said that the announcement was "good news" for cancer patients.
"Dealing with cancer is always difficult, and experience has shown us that having a specialist nurse to provide one-to-one support is a great help," he added.