Labour’s own NHS policies are driving changes in Ealing

I didn’t get a chance to speak last night in the NHS debate at full council. In my speech I wanted to explore the policy background to Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF). A bit wonkish maybe but if you look at the history of this project and the policy environment it becomes clear quite how venal Labour has been over the future of our hospitals.

Anyone with any knowledge of NHS finances knows that the SaHF programme is being driven by the Nicholson challenge – a programme put in place in 2009 by the then Labour Secretary of Health, Andrew Burnham. It is designed to take out £20 billion in efficiencies and put it back into new services in order that the NHS can deal with new demand within a flat real terms budget.

It is quite easy to prove that this is Labour’s policy – they wrote it down on page 4:3 of their 2010 manifesto:

Labour Manifesto Nicholson Challenge - close up

This is the Nicholson Challenge in black and white in the Labour manifesto.

It easy is to show too that this is the driver for Shaping a Healthier Future. Go to page 17 of the consultation document where it says:

SaHF quote

So Labour’s own policy has led directly to NHS NWL needing to find £1 billion of savings in North West London and hence this programme.

Now you might well say that the Conservatives didn’t have to keep Labour’s policy and that is a fair criticism. I might add though that Labour isn’t proposing to find £20 billion to make Nicholson go away and that this sum is not far short of all council tax collected every year or all business rates collected every year. It is a truly large sum of money.

What is clear though is that if Labour had been in power the overall financial settlement for the NHS would not have been any better, indeed it might have been worse as the Conservatives have made keeping overall NHS spending rising in real terms into a totemic promise. SaHF would probably not have looked very different under a Labour government as it would have been the same set of managers working to the same set of constraints.

If it wasn’t hard enough for the health service managers designing a response to Nicholson they also had to contend with the fact that Labour’s Alan Milburn signed off on a 35 PFI deal for the West Middlesex Hospital in 2001. Against that fixed constraint Ealing Hospital for one was always going to lose out.

So Labour’s “Tories close your hospitals” line is pretty much upside down. It is rare that a policy is so clearly and easily traceable from its effects on the ground back to the original decision. The stage was set by Labour and the only person listening to our borough is Jeremy Hunt.

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4 Responses to Labour’s own NHS policies are driving changes in Ealing

  1. Eric Leach says:

    Firstly I can’t accept the NHS cuts mandated by both the Tories and by Labour. Mental Health , Dementia and Altzheimer’s care and treatment needs are growing in England. The existing funding and resourcing is completely inadequate and needs to be increased raised significantly not reduced as is planned. Mental health BTW is the single biggest budget item in the NHS budget. The treatments for the mentally ill in England are very rudimentary and are largely drug based. This compares poorly with more progressive countries such as Finland and Denmark whose treatments are talking therapies’ led.

    Shaping a Healthier Future’ was crafted and is being implemented by a Tory led government – of that there is no doubt. There was no community engagement during the formative period of plan making and the counting and interpreting of the ‘Public
    Consultation’ results was travesty of transparency and accountability.

    The simultaneous closure and demolition of both Ealing Hospital and St Bernard’s Hospital and the haphazard, fragmented distribution of those hospital-based services around Ealing and beyond and to private suppliers, charities and volunteers will play very badly for the Tories in the Council Elections in 5 months time and in the General Eelection in 17 months time.

  2. Phil says:

    Eric,

    Lots of people, including me, would question the way NHS NWL developed their solutions and consulted on them. They have to account for their own behaviour.

    The solution that NWL came up with was grossly unfair on Ealing and the only decision maker who has mitigated it in any way is Jeremy Hunt. People may think he should have gone further but the NHS NWL management, the courts and the IRP all agreed that Option A should proceed.

    Who should people vote for then? Given that the NHS is an important part of our state. For Labour who kicked this process off or for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who have had little room for manoeuvre?

    How much money do you think should be added to the NHS pot and where should it come from? £20 billion is big, big bucks. It is about 2% of GDP or 20% of the overall health budget. The idea is to put the £20 billion back into things like dementia – the new growth areas.

  3. Mark Walder says:

    As of this year in NHS London NW having a chronic mental health condition no longer qualifies for an influenza innoculation. There is less care and support for these people then ever and yet there is no prophylaxis for those least able to look after themselves., or so my doctor has informed me. Is this true Phil?

  4. Phil says:

    Mark,

    Only just spotted this. Sorry for the delay.

    I have no idea if this is true.

    I suggest you take this up with Ealing CCG.

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