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Labour proposes new NHS targets on reducing deaths

Labour proposes new NHS targets on reducing deaths

Sir Keir Starmer is to propose introducing new NHS targets on cutting deaths in England from heart disease, strokes and suicide.
A Labour government would aim to reduce deaths from heart disease and strokes by a quarter over 10 years and see suicide figures decline within five.

The Labour leader is giving a speech on the party's NHS policy later.

The Tories accused Labour of seeking to frustrate its own reforms by repeatedly voting against them.

Labour's new targets for the health service will be part of a wider package of reforms if it is elected, Sir Keir will say, with a focus on modernisation, hitting existing cancer targets, and cutting waiting lists.

Sir Keir is expected to call for three "big shifts" in approach for the NHS, promoting digital methods, community care and preventative measures.

He will say it is "not serious" to argue the health service's problems can be solved with extra funding, and call for "serious, deep, long-term changes".

More than 5,500 deaths were registered as suicides in England and Wales in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - around three quarters of which were men. Women under the age of 24 have seen the largest increase of any group since data started being collected in 1981, an ONS study found in 2022.

Sir Keir is expected to tell an audience in the east of England that suicide rates among young people "should haunt us", adding: "Our mission must be and will be: to get it down."

The party also wants existing NHS targets to be tackled - for example the aim for 85% of cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral. This has not been achieved since 2015.

A Conservative Party source said cutting waiting times is one of the government's top five priorities, and that there had already been major progress on reducing very long waits.

They accused Labour of voting "against Conservative plans for more doctors" and said it was prioritising the hiring of thousands more NHS managers.

"If Labour were serious about NHS reform they would have taken action where they are in power in Wales where waiting lists are higher," they added.

Sir Keir's speech on Monday will be his third on Labour's five "missions" for government if it wins power, the areas which are likely to form the backbone of the party's manifesto at the next general election.

It came after Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, highlighted the party's aim to give people a greater choice over where they receive hospital treatment.

He told the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that Labour's plan for regional waiting lists would give patients more flexibility to receive care elsewhere if queues are shorter in another area.

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