Historic moment as Labour Conference unanimously recommits to restoring an NHS for all

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Momentous progress was made at the Labour Party Conference on Tuesday 26 September

An excellent motion was passed including a robust call for a defence of the NHS in England now and a move to reinstate it ‘as per the NHS Bill (2016-17)’. (See the motion in full)

Alex Scott-Samuel of the Socialist Health Association and Doctors For The NHS proposed ‘Composite 8: The NHS’ very movingly (speech) and the motion was seconded by Sue Richards of Islington CLP (speech). Both are members of Keep Our NHS Public. The motion was carried unanimously.

Scott-Samuel thanked Jon Ashworth for his speech prior to the motion. He went on to name accountable care systems and ACOs as a dangerous structure for healthcare, based on the American model, which will enforce capping of damaging cut budgets and will lead to restricted access to a diminished range of services – the inevitable result of the imposed, disastrous £22bn of underfunding of the annual NHS budget by 2020/21.

Sue Richards reminded Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Conference that this was one year on from conference committing to reinstating the NHS fully – abolishing the internal and external market forces, but that pledge had not materialised in shadow team policy, including at conference.

The motion goes further. It opposes the sell-off of £5bn of NHS estate planned under the Naylor Review adopted by the Conservatives. Under the terms of this motion, the 2012 Health & Social Care Act would be replaced by legislation restoring a universal and comprehensive fully publicly funded, owned and provided NHS restoring full duties to the Secretary of State. This reaffirmed the position the 2016 conference voted for, but which had not been adopted by the Shadow team.

On Sunday 17 September, Jeremy Corbyn stated his commitment on the Andrew Marr Show that the Labour Party would adopt conference-agreed policy direction. If this practice is realised, then we could be on the cusp of a dramatic strengthening of commitment from Labour – confident as they are in predicting they will be the next government – to restoring the NHS to its former vision. The policy as agreed would end the era of privatisation, and of internal or external markets, would end use of new PFI contracts and bring back into the NHS’ the current PFIs used to extract profits from NHS core funding and undermining the stablility of so many NHS hospitals and trusts. and deliberate defunding of the NHS. There is also the commitment to reinstating NHS student bursaries and an end to the pay cap impoverishing and demoralising the 1.3 million NHS staff. The end to the ideological defunding of the NHS will require greater level of funding than is currently being recognised.

Thank you to all the campaigners – keep up the work

Hard work and great commitment went in to achieving the adoption of this motion by NHS campaigners in the Labour Party – we thank you.

And related initiatives have been important in helping to strengthen the mood for change included the #NHSTakeback pledge and Allyson Pollock’s article in OurNHS on Labour’s manifesto – those involved include We Own It, the Campaign for NHS Reinstatement Bill, Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, OurNHS, Socialist Health Association, NHS Support Federation, Doctors for the NHS, Momentum, 999 and others.

It is important to follow up these important developments in discussions with the Labour shadow team and in campaigning up and down the land.

#NHSTakeback  was launched 16 September

So far 17 MPs have pledged to support this great new initiative pledge (latest).

It is based on the NHS Reinstatement Bill – read more here.

And the arguments behind the We Own It-initiated 5-point pledge, laid out the day before the crucial debate (here) are so  important.

Please take the #NHSTakeback pledge to your MPs of all parties and build on the momentum from Labour Conference’s strong stand.

Tony O’Sullivan

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  1. Thank Goodnes, and thanks to all fought against the Health and Social Care Act and have fought for the Reinstatement Bill ever since the Act was passed.
    Thank you and well done, now all we need is Parliament to make it happen.

    • Sadly that’s not the situation – the shadow cabinet have not adopted NHS reinstatement as policy and Ashworth is on record as saying he will not repeal health & social care act

      • I’ve not heard him say that – and if he has, he should not be Sec of State for Health when Labour is in power. Repeal of the NHSC Act 2012 was in the Last manifesto – but of course that is not enough, hence the need for the Reinstatment Bill.

  2. The commissioning of health and social care has led to the greatest waste of resources conceivable. If this putative bill aims to undo that damage I, for one, am behind it all the way. Rid the healthcare landscape of these apologists for failing healthcare policy once and for all.

    • Thank you Prof Brooker. That is absolutely the intention of the bill: to bring personal social care into the realm of ‘publicly provided from public taxation – free at the point of use’ ways of delivering universally and socially democratic essential services. Personal care for eg people with dementia, physically disabled people with health needs has been transferred to social care by successive governments, and then those social care services have been means tested and charged. Health and social care must be provided from the same model: and that has to be publicly funded and provided. One way or another this happens in Scotland so why not in England? Other than ideology.

  3. Am guessing that ‘ideology’ is inadequate in describing why our NHS is passing those with health care needs over to privately provided social care. My guess is that the Scottish government is (for some reason) less susceptable to being leaned on by those who benefit most from privatising social and health care. Privte providers are obviously salivating at the profits to be made and will use any avenue to further their interests, including leaning on members of the government.

  4. I’ve heard people with Labour Party ties tell me that the NHS Reinstatement Bill is ‘unworkable’, because it would involve ‘to big a restructuring’ of the service (which, as an NHS worker myself, I simply don’t accept – no amount of restructuring is too big if it is going to fully restore the NHS). I wonder if this is the reason that, for all their grand words, so few of the Labour Party have actually signed the Takeback pledge? I believe we need to further raise public awareness, and have them start lobbying their MPs on the issue. I don’t think it would be wise to rely on the Labour Party alone.

    • Thank you Odette. The campaign around the #NHSTakeback pledge and the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill are both seeking, and have already won, cross party support. However, we need to build on this and we hope that the Labour Party will endorse the pledge as a party. The Conservatives are responsible for TWO top-down devastating disorganisations of the NHS, without any mandate or gesture towards public consultation. The current plans around Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships with their STP plans, and the moves to imposing accountable care organisations (ACOs) will dis-integrate the NHS further into 44-50 separate structures, and the contract to manage each of them will by awarded by competitive tender, with the spectre of private business corporations being put in charge of the entire – erstwhile national – NHS. We are part of the fightback on all fronts from intervening through the structures of CCGs and local councils, to campaigning on the streets, to lobbying parliament, to the courts to stop this. Do join us as an individual member if not already, and find our nearest group to you.

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