NHS Services (Access)

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People) 6:40 pm, 15th October 2014

I actually picked up the copy of the report he left behind, and I found his highlight. It reads:

“The estimated administration cost savings outweigh the costs of the reforms”,

but it does not mention the £1 billion figure. In fact, paragraph 4.10, on the reliability of the Department of Health, states “we found…limited assurance” in the figures. It also states that

“strategic health authority staff did not verify the figures submitted to them by primary care trusts” and that it

“saw no evidence that the”

Government

“challenged these figures.”

Far from being independently verified, as the Health Secretary claims, they have been made up on the back of an envelope. [Interruption.]

Government Members can complain, but we have constantly argued that the NHS reorganisation has been the single biggest mistake made by the Government, and now we find out that members of the Cabinet agree. An ally of the Chancellor told The Times:

“George kicks himself for not having spotted it or stopped it”.

A former No. 10 adviser says that

“no one apart from Lansley had a clue what he was really embarking on—certainly not the prime minister”.

So we have a Chancellor, who is meant to safeguard public money, failing to stop billions of pounds of waste and a Prime Minister who claimed the NHS was his top priority, but was too confused or complacent to bother to understand his own plans. The Conservative party still does not get it. One Downing street adviser is quoted as saying:

“A lot of work had gone into persuading people that David Cameron believed in the NHS, had personal experience and cared about it. Then the Conservatives came in and forgot all about reassurance. Lansley managed to alienate all the professional people in Britain who were trusted on the NHS.”

The Government’s NHS reorganisation was not just terrible politics; it is terrible in practice for patients, taxpayers and NHS staff. I remind hon. Members that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 did not just create 221 CCGs, 152 health and wellbeing boards, NHS England, Public Health England and Health Education England; it also created four regional NHS England teams, 27 local area NHS England teams, 16 specialist commissioning units—well, there were 19, but at least two have already been merged—and 10 specialist commissioning units. That is on top of Monitor and the Care Quality Commission. It is a system so chaotic and confusing that no one knows who is responsible or accountable for leading the changes patients want and taxpayers need.

And now, just when we thought it could not get any worse, another major new reorganisation is under way. NHS England was commissioning primary care and specialist services, but in May it announced it wanted to give primary and specialist commissioning back to CCGs to try and patch up the fragmentation created by the Government's own plans. How much will this second reorganisation cost patients and staff?

Patients, staff and taxpayers cannot afford another seven months, let alone another five years, of this Government. They need a clear plan to restore care standards and restore care services so that they are fit for the future. Opposition Members would use the savings from scrapping the cost of competition in the NHS to guarantee new rights for patients to see their GP at a time that is convenient for them. We would raise £2.5 billion from a mansion tax, clamping down on tax avoidance and a levy on the tobacco companies to fund more GPs, nurses, midwives and homecare workers to transform services, particularly in the community. We will support carers with new duties on the NHS to identify family carers, a single point of contact for information and services and ring-fenced funding for carers’ breaks. Our plan for whole-person care would ensure the full integration of physical and mental health and social care services into one service with one team to meet all of a person’s needs.

At the next election, there will be a real choice on the NHS: a choice between care going backwards and money wasted under the Conservatives or Labour’s plans to fully join up services to get the best results for patients and the best value for money. It will be a choice between the Conservatives who have broken their promises to protect the NHS, throwing the system into chaos and blaming staff, or Labour who will make the real reforms we need so that people get personalised care in the right place at the right time. It will be a choice between the Conservatives’ unfunded plans to cut taxes for the wealthiest or Labour’s fully funded plans to reform the NHS and care services on which we all rely. I commend the motion to the House.