Ed Miliband promised to cap the profits which private firms make from hospital treatment as he put plans to “rescue the NHS” at the heart of Labour’s general election campaign.
A Labour government would scrap the internal market in health commissioning and prevent companies from cherry-picking the most lucrative patient care contracts, he said.
Labour became first party to launch its election campaign, choosing the viewing platform at the Orbit Tower at the Olympic Park in London for the event. It followed a battling performance by Mr Miliband the night before in the first of the televised election debates.
He devoted the bulk of Friday's launch to the issue of health, accusing the Conservatives of plotting the creeping privatisation of the NHS and pledging to reverse the trend.
Mr Miliband announced Labour plans to limit private firms from making a profit of more than five per cent on hospital contracts, adding that any excess would be ploughed back into the NHS.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
He also pledged to repeal the requirement in the Coalition’s health reforms for all contracts to be put out to competition, one third of which had been won by private companies since the reforms were put in place.
“It’s time to put patients before profits and stop privatisation,” he said. “It’s time to rescue the NHS from David Cameron and that is what we will do.”
Mr Miliband insisted Labour would spend £2.5bn more than the Conservatives on health through a “mansion tax” on properties worth more than £2m to pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more family doctors and 3,000 more midwives.
The Labour leader, who was joined by the shadow Cabinet for the launch, told activists that they faced the “tightest general election for a decade”.
He said: “I know our opponents will throw everything they have our way, because they are desperate to hang on to power. But we know we can win this fight on behalf of the British people.
“We know we must stand up for working families. We know we must change Britain.”
He claimed the voters faced a choice on May 7 between pessimistic Tories and a Labour Party with a “spirit of optimism”.
The Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said: “A private sector profit cap sounds appealing but the devil would be in the detail and a simplistic policy could cause chaos for local hospitals.”Reuse content