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Protect NHS, Labour urges nurses

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14 May 2012 Last updated at 20:17 ET By Nick Triggle Health correspondent, BBC News
NursesNurses are the first line of defence, says Labour

Labour is to encourage NHS staff and patients to gather information on how coalition policies are affecting front-line care.

The party has set up a website - NHS Check - for people to write in with their views.

The move comes as Labour leader Ed Miliband addresses the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference in Harrogate.

He will tell delegates that by working together they can help protect the NHS against "top-down re-organisation".

And Mr Miliband will also say: "Resources are being diverted away from the front line, patients waiting longer for treatment, disruption and fragmentation.

"I want to start working with you now to protect the values of the NHS and to hold the government to account for what's going on.

"You are not just on the front line of our NHS. You are the first line in the defence of our NHS."

Check system

Labour said through its NHS Check system it wanted to hear about the concerns people have on everything from staffing levels and the quality of care to how the government's reorganisation is panning out.

The move comes amid claims that cuts are beginning to affect front line services.

The RCN has released two studies during its annual conference highlighting the pressures being felt in hospitals and across community services.

They included evidence that community-based support, such as district nursing and mental health care, was being swamped, and reports of patients being treated in hospital corridors because there were not enough beds.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley accepted times were difficult, but suggested there was too much focus on problems in the health service, when he addressed the conference on Monday.

Instead, he said it should "celebrate" its successes in areas such as improving access to dentistry, reducing hospital infections and tackling mixed-sex accommodation.

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