We heard from the Leader of the Opposition earlier that the NHS needed to change, but once again we have heard nothing from Labour Members about how it needs to change. It is not unusual to hear nothing from them. They say that we need to tackle the deficit, but they will not say how. They say that we must change the NHS, but they will not say how.
Interestingly, in January John Healey said that he agreed with the aims of the Bill. He said that he supported a
“greater role for clinicians in commissioning care, more involvement of patients, less bureaucracy and greater priority on improving health outcomes”.
At the last election, his manifesto said that he wanted all NHS trusts to become foundation trusts. It said that he wanted patients to have access to every provider, be it private sector, voluntary sector or NHS-owned. Now we do not know what the Labour party’s policy is at all, but what I do know is that the Government will give leadership to the NHS, and that we will give the NHS a strategy enabling it to deliver improving results in future.
The right hon. Gentleman clearly wrote his response to the statement before reading it. In fact, we have made it clear that we will listen to what is said about precisely the issues on which people in the NHS and people who depend on the NHS are united. They know which issues are really important. They know that we must be clear about accountability, and that there must be transparency. Clinicians throughout the health service want to work together, and want the structure of the service to help them to work together so that they can deliver more holistic and joined-up services to patients. We want that, and they want that. We will back up our strategy with detail, but from the right hon. Gentleman we heard no strategy, no detail, and no answers whatsoever.
We are clear about the principles that we are pursuing through the reform and modernisation of the national health service. We are listening, and we are engaging with those principles. We are listening to the people in the health service who have come together to implement those principles, so that we can help them to do so effectively. Labour Members have not even listened to those who threw them out at the last election, because they are still wedded to the past and to a failed, top-down, centralised, bureaucratic approach.