Yesterday the GMB union paid a lot of money to put a four page advert into the Gazette reminding people about the hospital march on 27th April. The council couldnâ€™t afford this and neither could any of Ealingâ€™s political parties.
It would be nice if GMB could use its membersâ€™ money to tell the truth. The detail of the leaflet tries to blame NHS cuts on the Conservative party ignoring the Coalition and Labour’s own decisions before the election. They say:
… now the Tories seem hell bent on taking away our health service!
The ongoing consequences of Andrew Lansley’s emasculation of the NHS being carried forward by Jeremy Hunt and the damaging effects of seeking to cut the NHS bill by around Â£20 billion over a five year period is proving disastrous, in the same way that Cameron’s infamous promise to reduce costs not the NHS is proving farcial, …
At the same time when justifying the proposals for the service to save Â£20 billion over 5 years, Team Cameron with the use of smoke and mirrors, attempts to convince us that this will not affect frontline services.
Although you can argue about the odd million here and there the Conservatives have met their promise to protect overall health spending in real terms â€“ many parts of government have had to put up with 20% cash cuts which are even bigger in real terms. If that is so where does the Â£20 billion come from? It is real enough.
In 2009 the controversial NHS chief David Nicholson kicked off the Nicholson Challenge whilst a Labour government was in power and Andy Burnham was Health Secretary. The idea of the Nicholson Challenge was that in a resource limited environment the NHS would have to do more for the same money. He proposed Â£20 billion of efficiency savings over five years which would be ploughed back into new services. This is how we get the current situation where health service spending is kept up but we all hear about cuts.
The NWL NHS â€œShaping a healthier futureâ€ proposals are our local NHSâ€™s response to the Nicholson Challenge. We donâ€™t like the proposals because they treat Ealing very unfairly. The preferred option moves services further away from us. We maybe cannot change the overall financial envelope in which these changes are being made but we can certainly object to a solution that is so visibly inequitable.
Go on the march. Blame Labour for the finances. Demand that the NHS does not settle for a scheme that is unfair on Ealing.
Labour and the GMB should stop lying about Labourâ€™s Â£20 billion Nicholson Challenge. The Nicholson Challenge was settled Labour policy before the election. Only this week Ed Miliband refused to promise to undo the so-called Bedroom Tax when he visited Newcastle. This change is reckoned to save Â£480 million. The idea that a future Labour government could find Â£20 billion to undo its own Â£20 billion Nicholson Challenge policy is a pretty big stretch.