Education and Health
Andy Burnham (Secretary of State, Department of Health; Leigh, Labour)
The hon. Gentleman has been found out. I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend Mr. Prentice, but I am not proposing what the shadow Health Secretary suggests. I can stand making a tough decision. I can say, "This is saving lives; I will stand by it," but the hon. Gentleman wanders round constituencies with candidates wearing rosettes, promising the earth. He does that not just in Burnley, but in my patch, Greater Manchester, where we have had a difficult review of maternity services. He goes round Greater Manchester promising to reopen everything. Does he remember the leader in the Manchester Evening News that promised that babies' lives would be saved? Does he remember the review? Has he looked at the clinical evidence? Has he heard the views of clinicians about that reconfiguration?
The hon. Gentleman today claimed in the House that clinicians should decide where services are placed, yet he wanders round the country with Conservative candidates, opposing every clinically led decision in the land. That is not a credible position to take. He says that he wants patient choice, but would allow general practitioners to reverse extended opening hours. To cap it all, the Conservatives say that they want a bonfire of the quangos, but then pledge to have an independent board for the NHS; that would turn it into the biggest quango in the world. It is dangerous for a Labour Minister to quote "The Thick of It", but under the hon. Gentleman, Tory health policy really is turning into an omnishambles.