Welcome to your new role as Shadow Secretary of State for Health. It is to be hoped that you can build a strong team and bring continuity after the sadly premature departure of Heidi Alexander.

You take the role at a time of major pressures on our NHS due to the inadequate funding and the lack of proper system of accountability because of the ludicrous H&SC Act. We are also witnessing but not adequately highlighting the disgraceful continuing decline in social care and support.

Labour went into the 2015 general election with some care policies that were widely supported throughout the party after a long period of policy development. The position however was weakened by the lack of a credible approach to the funding of care. What Labour’s policies are now is a mystery.

Suggestions:-

  • Hold the Secretary of State to account for winter planning
  • Hold the government to account for misery caused by social care cuts
  • Hold the government to account for the deteriorating performance and workforce alienation in the NHS and poor working conditions in social care
  • Argue for a two year moratorium and a pause on policy changes in the NHS – get the NHS back to running at 2010 levels of satisfaction and eliminate deficits – bring stability first before trying transformation.
  • Lead the campaign against the cuts in social care which desperately needs investment and implementation of Dilnot and a return to a universal entitlement meeting all needs moderate and above.
  • Campaign to reverse cuts in public health funding and to give extra funding to drive public health involvement in STPs
  • Work with Labour authorities trying to make STPs and Devo work
    • Argue an STP type process is right in principle as it ends H&SC Act nonsense – but secrecy and lack of credibility over funding have made it toxic
    • So re-start the formal STP process – first year for engagement and consultation feasibility studies etc; second year detailed planning; start roll out of system changes in year 3 after stability returns.

And within the party:-

  • Go back to the 2015 policy position and develop further what is already there; especially around issues of funding and resource allocation.
  • Try to build a wider base of credibility to enable proper work on policy development. Maybe another commission (Paying for whole person care).
  • Develop further the ideas in the Efford Bill to show how proper accountability could apply in a non-market system without the huge disruption of a major top down reorganisation.
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2 Comments

  1. jcashbyblog says:

    The only thing that he needs to do is vote in The Reinstatement Bill as you cannot make a wrong thing righter. STPs are a distracting disaster.
    Heidi Alexander’s departure fortuitous. Dianne Abbott achieved more in a couple of months making the case against the government than Heidi did in her lack-lustre way during her time in office. Why Corbyn moved her when she was getting her feet under the desk of the most crucial issue in the country is a mystery.

  2. Richard Blogger says:

    Diane Abbott achieved what exactly? I know what Diane does not like, but I know nothing about what she would do because she has not told us. The so-called NHS Reinstatement Bill was outsourced. That does not please me since I want the market and outsourcing of NHS services removed. Yet Abbott outsourced the Bill she was supposed to be supporting.

    Take for example PFI. Diane Abbott only said that she was against “any new PFI”. Well that took a lot of courage, didn’t it? Anyone wanting to reform PFI would have to reform *all* of NHS capital funding because PFI is just one mechanism to fund buildings and equipment. In fact, the *other* funding mechanisms cost the NHS in England more than PFI does. And yes, there is a finance cost to those mechanisms, a big cost that should be used for patient care. At the moment capital money is being shifted to revenue because revenue (ie the money that pays for care) is not adequate. This shift from capital means that essential maintenance is not being carried out, and we are returning to the dilapidated hospitals that Labour inherited in 1997. So, we need an increase in revenue so that the capital transfers stop, and we need a new mechanism of capital funding, preferably one that does not treat NHS trusts as businesses, as the current PFI alternatives do (essentially, trusts get an injection of equity which requires an annual dividend to the only shareholder, HM Treasury).

    Incidentally, Abbott’s approach to PFI does not agree with the writers of the NHS Reinstatement Bill – they want some kind of debt forgiveness, although there are few details where that money will come from or how it will fit in with John McDonnell’s big idea of a National Investment Bank, or to the National Debt in general.

    Removing the market and returning to system planning is what the NHS needs, not a wholesale reorganisation that would make Lansley’s look like it was simply moving around of paperclips. Irwin is right, let’s get back to the good work that had been done up to the 2015 election.

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