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Politics

Labour Must Offer Hope on the NHS Through Socialism

NEWLRClogoThanks to the bridges built by New Labour, the tanks of private providers are well and truly being parked on the lawn of the NHS with their guns firmly pointed at destroying our publicly funded and accountable Health Service.(I do so love a mixed metaphor, just ask our editors!)

Clegg was able to point out at the dispatch box that it was New Labour that commissioned the first whole sale sell off of an NHS hospital. Circle “Healthcare” (sic) have been running Hinchingbrooke Trust since 2010. They won the contract by claiming they could make an astonishing £311 million in saving over their ten year tenure.

In August the Trust was close to the £5 million debt barrier that would see them lose the contract, but worst of all in September this year the Care Quality Commission reported that patients were being treated in an, “undignified and emotionally abusive manner Some patients who lacked the capacity to consent are being sedated. Hygiene is poor in some areas, and there are significant staffing problems.”  The report continued, “The wards are often short-staffed and there aren’t enough nurses on the wards due to a reduced number of frontline nurses. On one ward, a single nurse was allocated 21 patients.”

There is little we as the taxpayer can do about this. Under the Health and Social Care Bill passed in 2012 the Secretary of State for Health is no longer directly responsible, or accountable to Parliament for what goes on in the NHS. Instead we have a variety of baffling bodies such as, “Health Watch” who are meant to monitor things. These bodies are populated by professional quango chasers who hoover up these positions and the rewards that go with them. Just have a look here:  http://www.healthwatchkingstonuponhull.co.uk/content/meet-board

They claim to be open and transparent. But unless you are a complete nerd this part of the gravy train runs in the shadows.

We need the Labour Party to step up to the plate by pledging to eliminate once and for all private companies from the NHS. Local services should be delivered by locally accountable and publicly employed people. All the evidence, and not just at Hinchingbrooke shows that when the private sector gets involved in the NHS bad things happen. The reason is pretty clear. Private companies exist to make money. They have a legal obligation to make as much profit as they can for their share holders. That’s how capitalism works. It is deluded and living in complete and utter denial if we think for a minute there is any altruistic motive at play here.

Secondly the Health and Social Care Bill must be repealed IN FULL. Those two little words are crucial. Rip it up and start again, this time with the Spirit of 1948 driving things. The NHS was built during a time when the so called, “deficit” was and eye watering FIVE TIMES what it is now.

Therefore my third proposal is full funding for the NHS and a reversal of the £20 billion, “efficiency” cuts must be a concrete policy and appear on the first page of Labour’s 2015 Manifesto.

The Tories routinely and without shame mislead the public regarding the NHS (amongst other things). Labour must expose them every single time. Last month Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy claimed an extra £887,000 was coming from central government to help North East Lincs and Goole Hospital Trust deal with winter pressures.

Firstly the mere fact that we are talking about winter in this way means that the NHS is returning to the 1990’s when a cash starved service regularly experienced these annual crises.

But most pertinently, when you look at the online budget for the Trust you see they had a cut of £6 million imposed on them this year meaning that overall the hospitals are down £5.2 million even with this so called extra money. The figures can be found here: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/bruce-keogh-review/Documents/trust-data-packs/130709-keogh-review-northern-lincolnshire-and-goole-data-packs.pdf and have been challenged in the media by the Labour candidate Jacky Crawford. The Front Bench needs to be far more vocal on unravelling the Tory lie machine.

The Tories lie about the deficit. Cameron claimed in his October 2014 speech to the Conservative Party Conference that the UK Government was, “paying down its debts”. This prompted a rebuke from the Chair of the National Statistics Authority Andrew Dilnott. He wrote on 3rd October to Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie, “debt has increased by £434 billion” over the period that Cameron was talking about. Expressed as a percentage of national income the UK debt burden has gone up from 64% in 2010 to 79.1% in August 2014.

Instead of pandering to the people that wrecked the economy in the first place by indulging in the Tory driven agenda of Austerity (which the Harvard Business School say is killing our economy) Labour should be talking about a total reboot of the tax system whereby the burden goes on to assets starting with land. A 20% tax, according to Prof. Danny Blanchflower who sat on that well known hotbed of Marxist- Leninist thought the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, would see £800 billion raised and the debt wiped out. We could get rid of VAT, build 2 million new homes and in the process create world class jobs and apprenticeships whilst offering free education for as long as people need it.

The Left is often accused of being naive or not living in the real world. Well, the real world is 8 million being un or under employed, poverty spreading to the extent that 1 million were referred to food banks in the year leading up to September 2014, suicide rates are on the increase and a sense of hopelessness envelops the Nation.

Labour will only win in 2015 if we adopt radical and optimistic policies. Out flanking the Tories on the Austerity/ debt lie is the way to defeat and ensuing carnage with working people being the ones to pay the price.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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