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Burnham's NHS Speech Is a Death Knell for High Quality Patient Care

Burnham's NHS Speech Is a Death Knell for High Quality Patient Care

It had to come some time. Andy Burnham would have to face the music and admit to the mistakes of the last Labour government and….actually no, that was never going to happen was it?

Instead what we were treated to was anti-Tory rhetoric about fragmenting and privatising the NHS and undeliverable promises on staffing. A ten year plan with no more credibility than a Soviet five year one, success measured by ever rising inputs with a careful rewriting of history to explain away the last plan’s failure by pretending it never happened.

The mansion tax can be accepted or rejected depending on your political stance, and I reject it fully, but there’s no doubt an extra 2 billion on top of a 120 billion NHS budget is chicken feed; nothing new can be credibly delivered with this when our addiction to waste and funding hospitals through PFI Wonganomics is alive as ever.

Eight thousand more GPs, 20,000 nurses and 3,000 midwives isn’t a dream ticket, it’s a wish list. In 2008 Labour managed to lose 5000 nurses abroad and its academic “too posh to wash” style of nurse training will not deliver the quality or quantity of nurses we need, we are still exporting the best of British while spending millions on recruitment drives to poorer countries.

The nurse training won’t be as sound, the language skills of those recruited variable at a time when quality of care is major issue no one is tackling. GP recruitment is in crisis and has been for years, Burnham must carry the can for that as much as Hunt.

The pledge to universal free care is tried and tested here in Scotland and it isn’t working. Those entitled to free care now will be no better off and money that should fund primary care will go to bail out those who don’t want to stump up to pay for their elderly relatives. It won’t pay towards funding the bed and breakfast side of long term care and has been blamed for worsening quality of care by none other than the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont MSP:

“To have this, it’s got to be properly funded. It can’t be when you say we’ve got this fantastic policy … when, at the same time, the threshold to access care is increased, when you charge for things … you did not charge for in the past – community alarms, or whatever – when you drive down most terms and conditions and you’ve got what care workers describe to me as a job of “task and go” – go into people’s homes for 15 minutes then back out the door. That’s not care. Is it acceptable that someone is tucked up in a bed at 6pm because of the pressure care workers are under?”

The idea of Labour putting care under “one team” is meaningless if that care is professionally delivered by those who put the patient first. For Burnham to “offer better support to the terminally ill, making it easier for them to die at home if they want to” sends shivers down my spine.

13,000 dead in 14 NHS hospitals for no reason, a Liverpool Care Pathway not evaluated by Labour during its time in office, and no apology for either means a Labour health minister is the last person any0ne who want to help along their way in a palliative care home, except perhaps the late Dr. Harold Shipman. Not that Labour would want to rob of your wealth after you died of course….

Labour’s record on the NHS in Manchester is a miserable one. Wythenshawe hospital ended costing one billion pounds through a dodgy PFI scheme, Rochdale A&E was closed by Labour in 2006 and an independent sector treatment centre paid out millions for operations that were never done, which was criticised heavily by a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Lord Ribeiro.

No real mention of the EU-USA trade deal proposals and a sly commitment to back door reorganisation by repealing the health and Social Care Act, that’s a few billion already gone then. Labour promises nothing new in the way of meaningful funding, no proposals to cut waste and a workforce plan copied straight from trade union pamphlets. Quality of care will only get worse, not better, under Labour.

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