LABOUR CONFERENCE: Miliband puts NHS at heart of his bid to win keys to Number 10

Labour leader Ed Miliband leaves with his wife Justine Thornton after making his keynote speech to d

Labour leader Ed Miliband leaves with his wife Justine Thornton after making his keynote speech to delegates during his party's annual conference at Manchester Central Convention Complex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 23, 2014. See PA story LABOUR Main. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Political editor Annabelle Dickson reports from the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

Ed Miliband put the National Health Service at the centre of his bid to be prime minister in a conference speech which set out his 10-year vision for Britain.

He told delegates in a packed hall that tobacco firms, tax avoiders and 'mansion' owners will be targeted to pay for a £2.5bn NHS recruitment drive if Labour takes power.

A 'Time to Care' fund would be created to tackle shortages that have left wards and surgeries dangerously understaffed, and transform a 'creaking' home care system, he pledged.

Its first priority will be the recruitment of 20,000 nurses, 8,000 GPs, 3,000 midwives and 5,000 care workers, as part of a wider shift to a more integrated health and care system proposed by the party.

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Eight months from a general election, the opposition leader said creating a 'world class' health and social care system was one of the six main goals in his 10-year plan to restore the UK's fortunes.

Party members welcomed the move, claiming it would 'save the NHS'.

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Richard Howitt MEP, Labour member of the European Parliament for the East of England said: 'Ed Miliband showed how Labour has learnt the lessons not just from Scotland but from the everyday struggle of working people across the country.'

But Mr Miliband sought to paint a bright long-term picture for Britain, suggesting Britain was so damaged it will take Labour a decade to fix it and laid out a series of goals the party would aim to achieve by the end of a second term.

These included doubling the number of first-time buyers to 400,000 a year, boosting apprenticeship take-up until it matches the number going to university, halving the number of low-paid workers and creating a million new 'green' technology jobs as part of his 'national mission'.

Conservatives, however, said Mr Miliband had failed to offer any serious plan to grow the economy, claiming he had not even mentioned how he would reduce the deficit.

Labour's 'tough new approach' to the economy – which includes eliminating the deficit as soon as possible in the next parliament – had been highlighted in a section of extracts of the speech briefed to journalists.

But Mr Miliband, speaking from notes without a script, failed to deliver that part of the expected address.

What did you think of Ed Miliband's speech? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, or email

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