This weekend I went to Lincoln, a city I first visited during my homeless days back in the 1980s. It gave me a chance to meet some old friends and make a video combining my two main passions… Left wing politics and social/mental health care. What’s not to like?
Tag: Health and social care
Tory MPs caught telling the truth
Yes, I know – trawling through Hansard can be a pain. So much of a pain that few people ever bother but I promise you, it’s well worth it if you want to know what’s actually going on. It’s one thing to see how an MP votes but if you want to actually catch them in their hypocrisy then Hansard is the place to go.
On Thursday January 16th, the House of Commons debated a motion tabled by Shadow secretary of state of health, Jon Ashworth. It was a proposed amendment to the new Health and Social care legislation proposed in the Queen’s Speech. The amendment would acknowledge that nothing less than a cumulative 4% increase in NHS funding would suffice to repair the damage caused by long-term Tory underfunding since 2010. Mr. Ashworth began…
“I beg to move an amendment, at the end of the Question to add:
‘but respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech fails to ensure that the National Health Service and social care will be properly funded;
and calls for the Government to bring forward a plan and additional funding to end the crisis in social care and provide for at least a 4 per cent per year real terms increase in health spending.’. “
Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister for Justice reported that…
“When Labour came to power in 1997, there were 1.3 million people on a waiting list—the highest number since the NHS was created in 1948. The Labour Government used targeted and sufficient funding to bring all those figures down, to the point where A&E waiting times were down to four hours and waiting lists were down to 18 weeks. It is regrettable that the Government now want to abolish the A&E waiting time target. Is that simply to spare Ministers’ blushes? Since last October, 320,034 people waited more than four hours at A&E, whereas in 2010 the figure was just 41,231.”
This is, of course a damning indictment of not only the conservative mishandling of the NHS since 2010 but also of the previous tory government that ran it down in much the same manner prior to 1997.
This is why a minimum, consistent 4% increase is so vital. But it’s not only the opposition that are highlighting such damning figures. The tories themselves are unhappy at the state of the NHS too. That’s why Conservative MP. Desmond Swayne’s words near the beginning of the proceedings were so important…
“This motion is about giving the NHS the funding it needs. It is a motion that will test every newly elected Conservative Member of Parliament on their commitment to the NHS.”
And test them it will!
Every single Conservative MP claimed to support the NHS. My own MP, Mark Jenkinson was extremely clear about his intention to support extra funding for health and social care services of a kind that would make a genuine difference to the level of service available to his working class constituents.
“The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Government accepted the Dilnot proposals and even put in place certain legislative provisions for them to be implemented in the next financial year.”
The Dilnot proposal recommended placing a maximum cap on the amount that individuals could be asked to contribute to their care in any circumstance, including issues related to old age or chronic illness. The conservative government scrapped their commitment to it in 2017 leading to the famous ‘Dementia tax’ proposal that lost Theresa May so much ground in the election of that year.
“…I never understood why, during the 2017 election campaign, they departed from that position—but what is the Opposition’s position on Dilnot?”
The commitment to Dilnot has still not been reinstated by the Conservative government despite its popularity within the country at large. Speaking for the labour party Jon Ashworth, Secretary of State for Health responded…
“We have long argued for a cap on care costs, but of course the Government, as the right hon. Gentleman says, dropped their support for this policy.”
He went on to remark that…
“This is a motion about the 4.5 million people on waiting lists… This is a motion about the 34,000 people who wait more than two months for cancer treatment. This is a motion about those constituents, such as mine in Leicester, who had their bladder cancer operations cancelled twice. This is a motion about the 79,000 cancelled operations last year, and the 18,000 children’s cancelled operations. This is a motion about the 110,000 children denied mental health care, even though they are in the most desperate of circumstances. This is a motion about the 98,000 patients who waited on trolleys last month—a 65% increase on the previous year—many of them elderly, many of them in their 80s and 90s, languishing for hours and hours on trolleys in hospital corridors… This is a motion about the 1.5 million people, many of them with dementia, denied the social care support they need after years and years of swingeing cuts.”
Mr. Ashworth later remarked…
“The Secretary of State is proposing a Bill that fails to reverse the £850 million of cuts to public health prevention services… He is asking us to approve a Bill that does not reverse the raids on capital budgets or deal with the £6.5 billion backlog of repairs facing our hospitals… He is proposing a Bill that does not give the NHS the 4% uplift annually that many experts say it needs. That is why Labour has tabled an amendment today to give the NHS a 4% uplift, and every Tory MP who believes in the NHS should support it.”
Every Tory MP who believes in the NHS should support it.
But that’s all very well. The opposition is supposed to call out the government on its plans and claims. What did the Conservative MPs have to say about the NHS after 10 years of their own party’s policies? For example, Caroline Johnson, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham pointed again to the ‘creative accounting’ of the Prime Minister’s claims about new nursing staff…
“I want to ask him about the 44,000 vacancies that he talked about. Is it not right that when the Health Committee looked at that, it found that 38,000 of those places were actually occupied by nurses who work on the bank?”
Daniel Poulter MP is a Conservative with grave concerns about the impact of market forces on the NHS…
“There is a particular concern among patients and people who work in the NHS about the fragmentation of services, which has been the result of the sometimes market-driven approach to the delivery of healthcare and the encroachment of the private sector on the delivery of traditional NHS services.
“As a clinician, what matters most to me is that we deliver the right services for patients. We need to recognise that the involvement of private sector provision has sometimes led to greater fragmentation and a lack of joined-up care for patients.”
The damage caused by this fragmentation is plain to see thanks to the targets and metrics set up by the last Labour government. And they make very telling reading.
What is the Tories’ answer to the worst A&E performance figures on record? It is to scrap the four-hour A&E target. Abolishing the target will not magic away the problems in A&E. It will not suddenly fix a system that saw 100,000 people waiting on trolleys last December.
Perhaps most bizarrely, Mike Penning is the tory MP from Hemel Hempstead. Despite knowing full well the problems resulting from the last 10 years of tory governance he still intends to vote against the amendment…
“We have got into a situation where the only way we can fight this, believe it or not, is to take the trust to court. There is a lack of accountability—I have called for debates in this House on that for years now. The only way we can fight the fact that the trust has only put in a bid for refurbishment of the Watford site is to take it to court and challenge it under judicial review. I have a fantastic community. We have raised the money. We will go to court. But is it not crazy that here I am praising, and I will be voting for, the Queen’s Speech and against Labour’s amendment, when I am saying that the £400 million being offered by the Government is going to the wrong place?”
Those voters local to me might be interested to know that despite assurances to support our health and care services, Mark Jenkinson MP also voted not to increase funding for the NHS and Social care last week.
James Davies MP is a Conservative. He’s also a doctor. He seems less than confident that the concerns of his profession will be met sympathetically by the Secretary of State for Health.…
“I have outlined not only interesting statistics, but sadly an indication of unnecessary loss of life and of harm to real patients. At the very least, there is a need for UK-wide patient safety mechanisms and rigorous inspection regimes, underpinned by comparable statistical data on performance and outcomes. I urge the Secretary of State seriously to consider that when progressing the initiatives outlined in the Queen’s Speech.”
Barbara Keeley, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care may have made the most direct appeal, whilst calling out Boris on his lies about a ‘clear plan’ before the General election…
“Proposing a solution to the crisis in care should be the Government’s top priority, as we have heard in many of the speeches this afternoon. However, despite the Prime Minister’s earlier pledge to fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared, he now says only that he will do something ‘in this Parliament’. After 10 years of inaction, is that the best the Prime Minister can say, alongside a vague offer of cross-party talks?”
But for me it was the many Conservative voices highlighting the inadequacy of their own government’s funding strategy that resonated the most. If only these people would vote with their consciences. But hey ho – they are Tories, after all!