More broken promises from the Conservatives. They promised no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS. Instead, their NHS White Paper proposes the biggest structural upheaval in the NHS for 60 years. This will cost the NHS £1.7 billion, money that should have been put into patient care.
Our existing health bodies, such as the local Primary Care Trust in Salford, are to be abolished putting thousands of people out of work and forcing other staff to apply for their jobs in new organisations. The Conservative Liberal Democrat Government proposes to put £80 billion of public NHS spending into the hands of GPs, whether they want the responsibility or not. Many GPs are unprepared for these changes and patients did not ask for them. There has been no consultation or testing of these proposals, which are a massive risk.
Self-employed family doctors will now be responsible for managing large budgets whilst running busy surgeries. The Conservative Liberal Democrat Government is also creating an independent NHS Board, another big QUANGO which will take decision-making away from Ministers and Parliament. There is no effective accountability for the NHS Budget, which will be handled by over 500 groups of GPs.
These plans represent the breaking up of the NHS - a massive change - yet one which the Tories did not even raise during their election campaign. I will strongly oppose changes which put at risk the excellent NHS services currently being delivered after 13 years of investment by Labour.
A positive development this week was my introduction into Parliament of a Bill to improve support for carers. The Carers (Identification and Support) Bill aims to make sure that GPs recognise when a patient is a carer and take their needs into account. It would also ensure that schools have policies to identify and support young carers.
In Salford, nearly one quarter of unpaid carers are caring for more than 50 hours a week. Caring at this level can affect the health of carers. I believe it is vital GPs identify all such carers, offer them health checks and refer them for advice and support. I am campaigning to ensure that the health and needs of carers are considered alongside those of the people they care for.