NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle 3:27 pm, 11th October 2006

Mr. Clarke gently mocked Labour Members for hyperventilating when it comes to the Conservative record of all those years ago. I agree with him that policy convergence is taking place. In fact, the Prime Minister is on record as saying that a lot of policy cross-dressing is going on, yet we have these debates that are full of sound and fury about what the Conservatives did in their 18 years, and I think that it is just a big yawn.

The Prime Minister can be very tribal. At Monday's meeting of the parliamentary Labour party, he told us—jacket off; gleaming white shirt—"The Conservatives have a marketisation agenda, you know. Get in there on Wednesday." Goodness me, I thought. I will come on to the business of new Labour and the market in a minute.

I also wanted to pick up on the point made about structural change, which has been hugely debilitating. In the time that I have been a Member of Parliament, strategic health authorities have changed massively. We have a huge strategic health authority in the north-west. In east Lancashire, which is where my constituency is, East Lancashire health authority morphed into Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale primary care trust, which has morphed into an even bigger PCT. We had two hospital trusts—Burnley hospital trust and Blackburn hospital trust—but they have been merged. The Lancashire ambulance service has been abolished and we now have a regional ambulance service. Community health councils have been abolished and we now have public and patient involvement forums, which are about to be abolished and replaced by patient links.