Composite 3 – Health (defeated)

Conference notes that on 2 August this government became the longest serving Labour government in history, overtaking the Attlee governments of 1945-51.

Conference believes that this date should not be marked by a wild celebration. It shows that Labour has never been in office for more then six consecutive years, and able to invest in and reform Britain’s public services. Conference believes that for Britain’s public services to be properly strengthened and renewed, we need a third term of a Labour Government.

Conference welcomes enhanced public spending on our key public services, reflecting Labour’s historic commitment to the public sector, education for all, the National Health Service and to the fight against crime and supports reforms that make our services more responsive to today’s needs of those who critically depend on them.

Conference supports the efforts of this Labour government to renew our National Health Service, which are leading to higher standards of care and a more reliable and personal service for every patient and have delivered 55,000 extra nurses and more than 10,000 extra doctors, and the biggest hospital building programme in the NHS’s history – 100 new hospitals by 2010.

The NHS today is the fastest growing health service in any major country in Europe, with an average 7.5 per cent real growth each year until 2008.

Conference also recognises the real progress that this investment has helped to deliver. Every single waiting time and waiting list national indicator – inpatient and outpatient – is showing a clear improvement when compared with the position in 1997 and the average waiting time for an operation has now fallen to just 2.8 months.

Conference believes that the National Health Service is not just bricks and mortar. For the people of Britain who rely upon it, the NHS is a set of deeply held values. Each and every one of us has over the course of our lives developed with it a very personal bond. It is those fundamental values – high quality care, free at the point of need, to everyone irrespective of their wealth – that were the strength of the health service at its foundation. Conference is proud that this Labour government exists to defend and entrench those same ideals today.

Conference demands that any reforms to public services do not come at the expense of public service workers. Conference urges the government to ensure that the private finance initiative is not more costly in the longer term to the taxpayer and does nothing to conflict with Labour’s long term commitment to publicly funded, publicly accountable, public services and to the public servants who deliver them.

Conference demands that any reforms of the NHS do not lead to the privatisation of the NHS. Conference applauds the decision of the Government to extend TUPE more comprehensively to service contracting operations involving labour-intensive services such as office cleaning, catering, security guarding and refuse collection.

Conference reaffirms the commitment given in Labour’s 2001 general election manifesto that any involvement of the private sector in the delivery of public services should not be at the expense of lower terms and conditions for key public service workers. Conference also believes that part of our approach to improving public services must be to devolve power away from the centre and into the hands of the dedicated and professional staff who work in these areas. Conference shares Labour’s confidence in the skills, talents and dedication of our doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Control of resources is being devolved because they are in the best place to know how to get the most out of them. Primary Care Trusts are leading the devolution revolution, able to control 75 per cent of the health budget for their local communities.

Conference believes that creating better services for patients should be at the heart of Labour’s efforts to improve the NHS. It notes Labour’s 2001 manifesto statements that this should be achieved by “greater decentralisation to front-line services and to the staff who run them” and that “hospitals and other local services will have greater control over their own affairs.”

Conference calls upon the government to develop public services based on the principles of equity, a strong public service ethos and sustained public investment. Our values stand in direct contrast with the Conservatives ‘commitment to spending cuts, privatisation and making people pay for their own health care. Conference condemns health policies proposed by the Conservatives that would subvert the basic values of the National Health Service. Their Patient’s Passport would increase capacity in the private sector for the few who could afford it, doing nothing to help the very many patients who rely on the NHS.

Proposed: Shrewsbury and Atcham

Seconded: Mitcham and Morden

COMPOSITE 4 – HEALTH (passed)

Conference notes that Foundation Hospitals were subject to serious criticism in the House of Lords debate on 8th September. In addition, the TUC Congress in early September voted unanimously to oppose policies furthering marketisation of public service provision. This has been exemplified by the 12th September announcement of the private companies selected to run diagnostic and treatment centres in the NHS, an initiative criticised by health professionals including the BMA. Conference believes that these concerns are widely share across the Labour Party.

Respected figures on the Labour benches in both Houses have strongly condemned the proposals.

We note with particular concern the statement by former health secretary Frank Dobson, on 8th September, that Foundation Hospitals “will mean the end of the NHS”.

Conference welcomes the Labour government’s sustained investment in public services which stand in marked contrast to Tory plans to slash public spending by 20%. Conference further notes that this investment is delivering demonstrable improvements across public services. However, we are concerned that the government is failing to capitalise on this success by concentrating on perceived failure and so-called barriers to reform. This is undermining public confidence. It is playing into the hands of our political opponents and those who want to privatise our public services.

Conference notes, for example, that a recent MORI poll showed that the number who believe that the government will improve public services has fallen from 54% to 31%; whereas a recent Commission for Health Improvement survey of real patients experiences of the health service showed satisfaction levels of over 90%. Statistics like this demonstrate that there is danger of undermining the strong case for sustained investment in our public services and jeopardising our chances of winning a third term.

Conference recognises the contribution that staff have made to improving public services and welcomes the protections to their pay and conditions that are embodied in the Best Value Codes of Practice in Local Government and the Retention of Employment model in the NHS. However, we also note with concern that many staff delivering public services are still suffering cuts in their pay and conditions and have inferior pensions provision through the continuing existence of a two-tier workforce. The Code of Practice in Local Government should now be extended across all public services as a matter of urgency.

This Conference notes and welcomes the announcement, at the beginning of September 2003, of a Government/Trade Union consultative forum on public sector reform. We believe that this forum could and should be a positive and progressive development for constructive dialogue and we reject the negative reaction of the Tories and the CBi.

The idea of Foundation Hospital Trusts is part of a new competitive market being introduced into the National Health Service in England, with hospitals competing for patients. Foundation Hospitals would fragment the system, widen inequalities and undermine the collaborative principles now being re-established.

Furthermore, Foundation Hospitals would be accountable only to an unelected regulator, not to the Secretary of State.

The local governance arrangements proposed are unclear and unwieldy , and likely to prove unrepresentative, with a real danger that they will be captured by special interest groups.

If a local population is to have a truly democratic voice in the NHS, however, this should be in its primary care trust, which has an interest in local services, relates to a defined geographical area, and has a clearly identifiable constituency of electors

The policy on Foundation Hospitals is contrary to the Party’s stated manifesto commitment in l997 to end the internal market and ‘put the NHS back together’. It is a policy drawn from nowhere with no prior discussion in the Party structures and no reference in the 2001 manifesto.

The NHS has embraced reform – 17 reorganisations in as many years. It does not need another structural reform, and certainly not when the benefits of the increased investment and other agreed improvements are starting to show.

Conference is concerned that this debate will distract from the widely welcomed and much needed investment in the NHS announced by the Chancellor following the Wanless Review.

Conference recognises that the plans for Foundation Hospitals failed

  • · to make it explicit that private healthcare corporations will not be able to obtain licences to run Foundation hospitals
  • · to require applicant hospitals to show that their bid has been endorsed by the relevant local authorities, Primary Care Trusts, Patient Forums and Local Trade Union staff sides
  • · to make the Independent Regulator accountable to the Secretary of State
  • · to reconsider the proposals for local accountability
  • · to ensure that Foundation Hospital Trusts remain bound to national negotiating frameworks such as Agenda for Change.

In the light of these concerns Conference calls on the government to:

a) Celebrate public service achievements and the commitment of public service staff.

b) Recognise that public service improvement is best achieved through sustained investment and support for public service staff and to instigate a programme of real front line staff involvement in the improvement agenda.

c) Recognise that marketisation and competition based reforms are not models which will improve services on the ground.

d) Honour the promise to extend the agreement to end the two-tier workforce in local government across all public services. In addition, implement Fair Wages legislation for public contracting that would ensure minimum employment standards regardless of employer.

e) Withdraw the sections of the Health and Social Care Bill that establish Foundation Hospital Trusts and also reconsider proposals to establish a commercial market in the NHS.

Conference calls on the government to acknowledge that the provision of public services such as health and education is fundamentally different from the provision of other goods and services in the economy. Conference welcomes the signs that the government is beginning to recognise this.

Conference believes that the Labour Government should be proud of its achievements so far and will secure a third term ff it concentrates on Labour values of sustained investment and co-operation, in contrast to the Conservative path of competition and privatisation.

Proposed: Unison

Seconded: Holborn & St Pancras CLP

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