We found out in July that Jeremy Hunt will continue to be the Secretary of State for Health in Theresa May’s Cabinet.

Since I had the honour of becoming Labour’s shadow health secretary, I have pressed Hunt on the problems facing our NHS, but he has had few answers from the barrage of cross-bench concern at various parliamentary debates on NHS funding and the impact of Brexit on the NHS.

When asked what he was doing to ensure that the NHS gets the £350 million a week that it was promised during the Leave referendum campaign, Hunt said: “I am a little stumped, because I was never really sure whether we would see that money.”

The government’s health policy is increasingly incoherent. The Leave half of the government has been promising millions of extra pounds to the health service while the Remain side knows full well that that money will be unavailable as it responds to the economic concerns regarding Brexit by steadfastly carrying on with austerity.Clearly this does little for morale in the NHS, which is already near rock bottom due to Tory cuts to the service.

Yet for the last six years the Conservative Party had sold the myth of austerity, promising that that cutting public services would “save money,” rather than choke off a sustainable economic recovery, squeeze the living stands of the majority and put our poorest citizens through unnecessary misery. The NHS is a big casualty of austerity. The public accounts committee said in May that nationally the NHS is short of 50,000 front-line staff and the government is driving through £22 billion in cuts by 2020, which has pushed hospitals and A&E departments to the brink of failure.

Last week’s junior doctors’ rejection of the government’s contract is just the tip of the iceberg. Anger at the government’s neglect of NHS staff and patients goes deep among both NHS workers and the public.
In that dispute, it has not helped that the government is treating junior doctors like the enemy within. It has not helped their morale to imply that the only barrier to a seven-day NHS is their reluctance to work weekends, when so many of them are already working unsocial hours, sacrificing their family lives in the process.

To mark the anniversary of the NHS as Labour’s proudest creation, I recently visited my local hospital, the Homerton University Hospital, and met some of the wonderful nurses. One of their main concerns was the abolition of the bursary, but they were also genuinely worried that NHS staff were no longer valued. Take, for example, the area of nursing. Indeed, an early 2016 report showed that one in 10 nursing positions are not filled, and low staff morale can only make this worse.

To make this worse, from next year, the government plans to scrap bursaries. It will fund nurse training through loans instead of grants to create an “open market” that will remove the NHS’s ability to place nurses where there is demand.

This government’s actions are the complete opposite what is needed to address the current recruitment crisis. And with one in three nurses over 50 and set to retire in coming years, the NHS has no long-term plan.But the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party is not just about opposing the Tories’ failed policies of austerity. It’s also about setting our sights higher about the type of society we want.

We can do this with an economic policy that is not based on cuts, but instead invests to grow our economy.This will enable us to create good jobs and pay, build homes, provide public transport and provide quality public services for all, including our NHS.

For this reason I have been delighted to support for the Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by my colleague Margaret Greenwood MP.

The central proposition of the NHS Reinstatement Bill is self-explanatory. It will have the effect of restoring parliamentary and ministerial accountability for the NHS. Amazingly, the Secretary of State for Health has no statutory responsibility for the NHS under current legislation.

This is not simply because the Tories, and Hunt in particular, find it more convenient to not be held accountable for the growing problems of the NHS — although that is probably regarded by them as a happy spin-off. The main Tory rationale is that undermining the NHS makes it more chaotic and more susceptible to denationalisation and privatisation. After all, this was the government that promised to protect the NHS, yet waiting times have soared. This is the government that talked about putting clinicians and staff first, yet provoked the first all-out strike by junior doctors in the history of the NHS.

In contrast to this approach, it is extremely important to restore parliamentary accountability and in effect to renationalise the NHS.Of course no-one wants yet another top-down reorganisation. NHS professionals and staff who I speak to hold up their hands in horror at the prospect. The NHS has already had more than one reorganisation too many. But at the same time it is, or ought to be, a fundamental principle that the political oversight of any public service must itself be accountable and subject to scrutiny from the elected representatives of the population. This is no less true for the NHS, which is one of our most vital services, and which commands such large public resources.Under the Tories, there has been top-down reorganisation, services have not been not protected, staff morale is at rock-bottom and measured performance continues to deteriorate. This is the chaos they have introduced.

Labour stands for the opposite. Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour will have no truck with Tory plans for break-up and privatisation of the NHS. Instead, we will develop plans to strengthen and improve the NHS and oppose all damaging cuts.

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8 Comments

  1. Well put, Diane. You have the same fire I remember from our days at Thanes TV! Xx

  2. Fiona Mather says:

    The old story of underfunding, hence the service cannot function efficiently, shock horror, which then leads to privatisation.

    Everyone, regardless of peoples political leanings, financial status, can and do use the NHS, sheer hypocrisy from those that benefit from it (NHS) who due maybe to class, opposing political beliefs, then go on to deride, despise the true labour socialist values that brought about the NHS in 1948!!

  3. jcashbyblog says:

    At last we have an opposition Cabinet member who has put the NHS case for reinstatement clearly and courageously. Thank YOU!

  4. JTO says:

    ‘The old story of underfunding, hence the service cannot function efficiently, shock horror, which then leads to privatisation’.

    That’s untrue.

    Publicly owned industries had to plough back any ‘profit’ into improving services..so they were self-financing and doing it rather well to expand public services at a reasonable cost.( see Gas Act etc)

    Why they were privatised was to create quick cash for the government of the day to assure the voters they were running a buoyant economy.

    The second reason was to prevent any voter flak hitting them when water, gas, telephone and electicity prices rose. As voters tended to equate a rise in gas -due to a rise in world gas prices – with govenment incompetency.

    The NHS is different. It has no profit to recycle. And it’s a constant worry to governments which have already tried to divest themselves of the responsibility by creating Trusts etc.

    ::

    One answer to help save the NHS is to charge for non-medical stuff -such as sheets and food. ( free to those who cannot pay) and cost charge non-essential medical stuff -such as tattoo removal. £10 a day hospital stay is reasonable.

    And use the ring-fenced income to pay for essential drugs, operations etc.

    The current government won’t – because that would mean there would be no argument to privatise if the NHS can hold its financial own.

    And if Labour were to be elected, it couldn’t be afforded without cutting other vital services.

  5. Mike Llywelyn Cox says:

    Hunt is engineering the complete privatisation of the NHS and at the rate he’s going (and were playing into his hands) he’ll achieve it before the next election.

  6. I thought everyone might like to know that Martin has been working hard to establish a relationship for the SHA with Diane Abbot, and asked her if we could post her blogs and articles to which she agreed. This is why the above has been posted, and hopefully there will be other material to come.I think he has done a great job in unusual circumstances 🙂 Brian Fisher has also been working hard and effectively to be sure we have a strong ongoing relationship with Diane, and myself and Alex Scot-Samuel continue to meet regularly with the one and only remaining junior health minister, Justin Madders. I had the good luck to be a constituent, and to have known him before he got the job. He thinks very highly indeed of Alex. Justin’s brief does not cover public health or mental health (though he may be having to do so now),

  7. Ground up Democracy says:

    SAVING OUR NHS WITH JEREMY CORBYN
    Health is your best wealth.
    If you kill your body where will you live?

    Dear Members,

    From the Ground up Democracy believes in the Labour Party standing behind their elected leader. The recent coup de tah started by the junior and cabinet members of the Labour Party is a disgrace to our party, the labour members and to our elected leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    I rejoined the Labour Party because of the kind, sensitive and genuine ways of Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy has inspired our party to become great again and serve the British People with ‘true democracy’ and not the ‘magic circle’ of the ineffective and conservative party.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for the British People is ‘true democracy’ for every man woman, child and newborn baby. Labour has been reborn again and without Jeremy Corbyn there is no Labour Party.

    Jeremy Corbyn is the best leader the British Empire has seen for over a century. He reminds me of other great leaders in our world like Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_McCarthy_presidential_campaign,_1968.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Kennedy

    “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.
    Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.
    The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.” Eugene McCarthy

    “I think we can end the divisions in the United States…the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions, whether it’s between Blacks and whites, between the poor and the affluent, or between age groups, or over the war in Vietnam–that we can start to work together again. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country…. So my thanks to all of you, and it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there.” Bobby Kennedy

    The Labour Party has already chosen the best leader for the future of the British Empire and we are madly insane to keep undermining our party with all the ridiculous quarreling and lack of our party being united or made into a whole party.

    The only leader that saves us from the tory’s is Jeremy Corbyn in our United Labour Party!

    Oh, I forgot to tell you about myself.
    Well here goes,

    Previously sent
    to Dame Sally Davies
    Chief Medical Officer

    I grew up in the health food industry and I have my Mum to thank for sharing her vast knowledge of how to improve your health with natural supplements.

    People who have an appetite for alcohol need to take a B Complex vitamin or Royal Jelly to curb their desire to drink or smoke. By taking adequate amounts of B’s you do not crave or desire alcohol or tobacco as much. Diabetic people can control their blood sugar with chromium picolinate, 200mcg every morning, http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/chromium-picolinate. Eating for your blood type also curbs your insatiable appetite for rotten junk foods that are not feeding your body. Low FodMap Foods is what people need to know about in order to control their appetite and diets, http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/.

    Most yuppies have grown up with a meat and potato diet. Your stomach releases one acid to digest the meat and another acid to digest the potatoes. The two acids neutralize each other when eating a meat and potato dinner. The dinner has satisfied the diner because they feel full and tired from not digesting their meal. They crave a sugary drink which turns into sugar, such as wine, beer, 7UP, Coke or even chocolate or sweets to aid their digestion. The yuppie generation has more alcoholics, drug addicts, diabetics and overweight people out of control.

    The younger generations and especially children and teenagers are blitzed with crappy food and drinks because of cool marketing on the television and billboards. These young people are the Zombie generation mesmerized from their smart phones, t v and so many other bad habits.

    Whenever I see someone on television suffering from cancer, chronic illness or even ignorance about an illness, I will send them an email letter with information to improve their health. Sometimes I get a thank you from your colleagues in the government. A few of your colleagues have esophagus cancer which is usually caused by drinking hot English Tea steeped at 70 degrees or hotter, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7965380.stm.

    Kind regards,

    David Ross

    Health Practitioner

    Health is your best wealth.
    If you kill your body where will you live?

  8. Dear Labour Members,

    How to save the NHS? Stand behind Jeremy Corbyn. From the Ground up Democracy believes in the Labour Party standing behind their elected leader. The recent coup d’etat started by the junior and cabinet members of the Labour Party is a disgrace to our party, the labour members and to our elected leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    I rejoined the Labour Party because of the kind, sensitive and genuine ways of Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy has inspired our party to become great again and serve the British People with ‘true democracy’ and not the ‘magic circle’ of the ineffective and conservative party.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for the British People is ‘true democracy’ for every man woman, child and newborn baby. Labour has been reborn again and without Jeremy Corbyn there is no Labour Party.

    Jeremy Corbyn is the best leader the British Empire has seen for over a century. He reminds me of other great leaders in our world like Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_McCarthy_presidential_campaign,_1968.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Kennedy

    “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.
    Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.
    The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.”

    “I think we can end the divisions in the United States…the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions, whether it’s between Blacks and whites, between the poor and the affluent, or between age groups, or over the war in Vietnam–that we can start to work together again. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country…. So my thanks to all of you, and it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there.”

    The Labour Party has already chosen the best leader for the future of the British Empire and we are madly insane to keep undermining our party with all the ridiculous quarreling and lack of our party being united or made into a whole party.

    The only leader that saves us from the tory’s is Jeremy Corbyn in our United Labour Party!

    “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

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