This morning local Labour assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon, Onkar Sahota, retweeted this five point manifesto from a campaign group called People’s Vote for the NHS.
I am not sure who People’s Vote for the NHS are beyond an anonymous Facebook account that seems to be related to the NHS “Jarrow” march in August/September this year.
The core of these people are hard left unionist and SWP types who have no interest whatsoever in making sure that the 10% of GDP we spend on health in this country gets the best results for the most people. They do want to bring down the Coalition and make sure that the Conservatives do not get into power. They do want to make sure that the Labour party protects vested interests and ignores patient outcomes as in Stafford.
What is Labour’s policy and how does it compare with this pledge list?
REPEAL THE COALITION’S NHS REFORMS. STOP PRIVATISATION. NO TO TIPP
Labour will make a show of tweaking the NHS reforms but will do nothing substantial to change the purchaser/provider split that sits at the centre of them and which are entirely uncontroversial to all but a few on the extreme left who believe that the NHS can be directed by central control. Privatisation under the Coalition has been going on at a slower pace than it did under Labour but Andrew Burnham thinks this a good line so he will limit privatisation even if it means worse outcomes for patients. The TTIP bit seems to be Labour party policy even if the whole issue has been misunderstood and is probably a red herring. Sahota probably can endorse this first pledge but after this it gets hard.
END THE NHS FUNDING FREEZE
Labour was vague about this before the last election and it will remain vague. They didn’t make any firm promise to protect health spending in 2010 unlike the Conservatives who have delivered on this pledge. Labour did though put the £20 billion Nicholson Challenge on page 4:3 of their manifesto and it was built into the NHS’s planning before the election. More recently Labour seems to be offering £2.5 billion from a mansion tax which will not appear for at least 2 years. The £2.5 billion has to pay for a new social care service which will be a huge undertaking. It represents only just over 2% of total NHS spending and cannot plausibly go anywhere near covering wage pressure, a so-called GP “crisis”, a so-called A&E “crisis”, undoing Nicholson and cover social care.
Labour will not end the funding freeze. All they are promising is a very tiny amount of money to do something new. The Tories have promised to protect health spending which Labour still has not done unequivocally. Perhaps Sahota can tell us how much the NHS will get and when?
NO MORE CUTS AND CLOSURES TO NHS SERVICES
Sahota cannot possibly agree to this proposal. It is totally unaffordable nonsense and flies in the face of previous Labour health policy as laid down in the Darzi Review and the Nicholson Challenge. The only way that the NHS is going to have half a chance of meeting new demand within financial constraints is if there are massive changes to services. Sahota needs to spell out what he would do differently and how it would be paid for. He won’t because he hasn’t got the first idea.
FREE OUR HOSPITALS FROM THE PFI DEBT BURDEN
The rule of law and respect for commercial contracts are two of the main underpinnings of our economy. These contracts cannot be unmade without very expensively compensating the PFI operators, most of whom were given contracts by the Labour government. For instance, the reason that Ealing Hospital is losing out and that West Middlesex isn’t is that the Labour government signed a 35 year, yes 35 year, deal on it. Does Sahota, who has spent a whole career being a private supplier to the NHS, really think that that the NHS should rip up its PFI contracts breaking both UK and EU law? Or does he think they should be bought out? Where will the money come from? Is Sahota serious? Perhaps he can explain?
FAIR DEAL AND FAIR PAY FOR NHS STAFF
Labour is making no promises on pay and the most likely outcome is that there will have to be years of pay restraint in the NHS unless it can revolutionise its productivity. Perhaps Sahota can spell out how he thinks NHS pay will change under a Labour government?
It is strange to see an ostensibly mainstream Labour politician like Sahota endorsing this left-wing agenda which is miles away from official Labour party policy. Either he is totally off piste and naive or he doesn’t mind what lies he tells to get Labour back into power. Given that he is a very rich and successful doctor which one do you think is true?