Prime Minister Gordon Brown has revealed his latest move as the pre-election battle hots up with a promise of free one-to-one home care for cancer patients by specialist nurses.

According to Brown, offering patients one-to-one care in their own homes by nurses not only specially trained to help patients deal with their treatment but also the wider effects of the disease, would help to “transform” the experiences of 1.6 million cancer patients.

In addition, the PM has also pledged to further shorten the wait for results of cancer tests to one week, in a drive for earlier diagnosis of the disease and thereby better treatment outcomes and survival rates.

The proposals, which were announced during a speech at think-tank The King’s Fund yesterday, are thought to represent a central strand of Labour’s election manifesto and form part of a wider package of measures to boost cancer care and foster a more personalised health service.

Under Labour’s plans, patients would be able to choose whether to have treatment - including chemotherapy and dialysis - at home rather than in hospital under one-to-one supervision by a specialist nurse, which, the party claims, would not only offer patients a more tailored service but, alongside a whole host of other measures to improve the management of long-term conditions could save the National Health Service more than £2 billion.

Commenting on the proposals, King’s Fund acting chief executive Anna Dixon called the promise of test results within a week “an impressive commitment”, and said that “reducing the wait both for diagnosis and for treatment is vital to achieving improved cancer survival rates - an area where the NHS has been criticised in comparison to the outcomes achieved in other countries”.

But she stressed that as access to specialist cancer nurses is varied around the country, the real challenge will be finding, training and employing sufficient community nurses. “Reshaping the workforce to deliver more care in the community and in people’s homes is a key issue for the NHS to address”, she said.

In addition, questions have been raised over whether cutbacks elsewhere in the NHS will be necessary to fund Labour’s plans, given the current different economic climate and looming budget freezes.

The Department of Health spokesperson confirmed to PharmaTimes UK News Online that the government has already stumped up £20 million pounds to pay for the first year of the scheme, but scepticism over where the cash to fund these measures will come from once the initial pot runs dry remains, particularly as, according to BBC News Online, the Conservatives are claiming that the plan could cost as much as £100 million.