NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 7:17 pm on 16th January 2012.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health 7:17 pm, 16th January 2012

No, I would not agree. I shall explain the policy that our Government adopted on the private sector and how different it was from that of the Government whom the right hon. Gentleman supports. In making our argument we will expose the terrifying gap between the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on the NHS and what he is doing in reality. People will recall the efforts that went into rebranding the nasty party. The Conservatives were at great pains to tell us that they would be pro-environment, a bit less tough on crime and pro-NHS going forward. Many photo calls were arranged to send those messages to the public, but it was poor old NHS staff who featured far more than huskies or hoodies in being brought in to promote hastily made political promises. We were told there would be real-terms increases for the NHS, a moratorium on accident and emergency department closures, thousands more midwives and, famously, no top-down reorganisation—four promises made in opposition: four promises broken in government. I still have not worked out how a Prime Minister can go from agreeing there should be no top-down reorganisation with his coalition partners after the election to bringing forward just weeks later the biggest top-down reorganisation ever in the history of the NHS. How does that work? Perhaps Lib Dem Members will enlighten us this evening.

Our evasive Prime Minister is the master of making statements that sound good at the time only to turn out to be meaningless in practice. Tonight we will focus on his most outrageous yet. On Monday 16 May last year, under pressure to reassure people about the Health and Social Care Bill and in the middle of the enforced pause, the Prime Minister said, in a speech:

“That’s why, when I think about what our NHS will look like in five years time, I don’t picture some space-age institution, a million miles away from what we have now. Let me make clear: there will be no privatisation”.

Those were his words—“no privatisation”.