NHS Past and Future

NHS staff have suffered under the Tory-led Government, with ministers often trying to blame doctors, nurses and other staff in order to hide their own failings.

Labour would recommit to the Pay Review Body process and we would not renege irresponsibly on the outcomes of the Pay Review Bodies, as the current Tory-led Government has done over the recent 1% pay increase. It was unfair for NHS staff to be singled out in that way; the Pay Review Body had looked carefully at the issue and the Government should not have rejected its advice. Ultimately, if David Cameron hadn’t wasted £3 billion on a reorganisation nobody wanted, the NHS would have a much better financial outlook than it has today.

Labour has been clear that the priority must be protecting jobs. However, we also need to defend those at the bottom of the pay scale who are hit hardest by the Government’s policies. Labour opposes any moves to undermine the pay review bodies by shifting wholesale to regional and local bargaining in the public sector. And Labour is committed to learning from the experience of Labour councils of using procurement to spread the living wage.

Labour is also committed to creating a new NHS staff champion to help improve workplace culture and cut the high rates of work-related stress, bullying and violence that too many staff face. We will take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to physical or verbal abuse against people who work in our NHS, and work with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service on the powers they need to protect staff and ensure criminal assaults do not go unpunished.

David Cameron’s NHS reorganisation put the wrong values at the heart of the NHS, putting private profits before patient care and tying up hospitals in competition law. As a result, NHS spending on private providers had risen by almost 60% under the Tories. If the Tories are allowed to continue as they are over the next five years, we will see more enforced tendering; more and more private sector contracts awarded, undermining local NHS hospitals; and more waste as millions in public money is spent on competition bureaucracy and competition lawyers.

Labour will end the drive towards privatisation by repealing the Health and Social Care Act. We will restore proper democratic accountability for the NHS, scrap David Cameron’s market framework and ensure that private patients are not prioritised ahead of NHS patients. We will replace the competition regime with an ‘NHS Preferred Provider’ framework, to ensure that the NHS is not needlessly destabilised by market competition.