We recently had a debate in Parliament about a Labour Bill aimed at stopping the privatisation of the National Health Service. This Bill is needed to deal with the most damaging effects of the Conservative-led Government’s reforms to the NHS, which are causing services to be privatised.
We know that there is now a financial crisis in the NHS as well as the financial crisis already existing in adult social care. The Conservative-led Government wasted £3 billion on its unnecessary reorganisation of the NHS and Government budget cuts have led to £4 billion being cut from council budgets for adult social care.
The privatisation of health and care services can only make this financial crisis worse. Private providers need to make a profit over and above meeting the cost of services. In adult social care this can lead to cuts in pay for care staff. In some areas it has also led to the scandal of the 15-minute care visit, which is clearly insufficient time to meet the care needs of a vulnerable elderly person.
The Conservative belief in the market has led to a situation where all cancer services and end of life care services could be contracted out to private providers in Stoke and Staffordshire. Taking this approach to services for a single disease across a wide area is a risky step to take, particularly when there is little experience of doing this elsewhere.
The Conservative-led Government is also causing alarm for renal patients by proposing that kidney dialysis services will be commissioned locally rather than by experts in the specialised national unit. I know this is a really worrying development for kidney patients who fear that local NHS commissioning groups may not have the expertise to do this.
Labour would end this worry and uncertainty for the NHS by ending the requirement on commissioners of NHS services to put those services out to tender. Labour also plan to invest £2.5 billion in Time to Care fund to transform the NHS with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 3,000 more midwives and 5,000 more home care workers.