Pledge that hospitals will improve care for the elderly

Hit squads are to be sent into hospitals in an attempt to drive up standards of treatment for the elderly – with checks on conditions in care homes likely to follow.

Plans for the biggest overhaul of the National Health Service for decades, to be announced this week, will set out moves to beef up its complaints system. As a first step, senior nurses will carry out spot checks on hospital wards treating elderly people, focusing on whether patients are treated with dignity and respect and are served nutritious food.

The Department of Health confirmed last night it was drawing up proposals to extend the regime of unannounced visits to social care providers.

The Independent columnist Johann Hari last week detailed the mistakes and incompetence endured by his grandmother as she was moved between care homes in the last 10 years of her life.

The Care Services minister, Paul Burstow, responded to Hari's article by promising tougher protection for the elderly against abuse.

Moves to restructure the NHS will be detailed in the Government's Health and Social Care Bill, which is due to be published on Wednesday. The 152 English primary care trusts will be abolished and their responsibility for commissioning £80bn of treatment and services – four-fifths of the NHS budget - will be transferred in 2013 to groups of GPs.

The Bill will also include plans to make it easier to register complaints about poor-quality care.

The planned shake-up of health funding is already proving highly controversial, with the NHS Confederation warning it will lead to hospital closures, poorer care and rationing of treatment.

The organisation, which represents health service organisations, such as hospitals and primary care trusts, will say in a report this week: "The absence of any compelling story about why the reforms are necessary or how they will translate into improved outcomes is of concern."

It is "extraordinarily risky" to undertake such a fundamental restructuring when the NHS is being asked to save £20bn by 2014/15 and undergoing 45 per cent cuts in the number of managerial staff, it will warn.

Andy Burnham, the former Health Secretary, said yesterday that it was the wrong reform at the wrong time.

"These reforms threaten to unpick the fabric of our National Health Service. At just the moment when the NHS faces a huge financial challenge what do they do? They bring in a massive reorganisation on a scale that we have never seen before in the NHS," he told Sky News.

But David Cameron will reject the criticism in a wide-ranging speech today, insisting the Coalition is determined to transform public services by injecting greater competition and choice, as well as giving them greater freedom from central control.

He will insist that reform – a vital component of work to tackle the national deficit – has to begin as quickly as possible and that 2011 will be a vital year for his modernisation agenda.

As proof of the widespread support for change, he will disclose that 141 groups of GPs have already come forward to take part in trials of the new funding system. They are responsible for the care of 28.6m people in England, more than half of its population.

He will say he wants "one of the great legacies of this Government to be the complete modernisation of our public services".

The Prime Minister will say: "I don't want anyone to doubt how important this is to me. My passion about this is both personal and political.

"Personal because I've experienced, first-hand, how dedicated, how professional, how compassionate our best public servants are.

He will add: "This is a political passion – and priority – of mine too. I believe that Britain can be one of the great success stories of the new decade."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick