Keep Our NHS Public has produced a downloadable Hustings Guide to help supporters of the NHS to ask the right questions at hustings and campaigns events across the country. All politicians of all parties should be questioned properly – the NHS is in an existential crisis and needs a real, determined rescue package. We are producing lists of questions we believe should be put to the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates of various political parties, as well as some general NHS questions that could be put to any candidate.
In the third instalment of our hustings guide, (read the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parliamentary candidate hustings guides) here are our questions to parliamentary candidates (including incumbent MPs) standing for the Conservative Party:
1. Will you take the pledge to protect the NHS from trade deals?
Why we ask: The Tories have banned parliamentary candidates from signing Keep Our NHS Public and We Own It’s pledge to protect the NHS from trade deals, a memo leaked to The Guardian revealed. Many other parliamentary candidates and MPs have already signed, including shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, so why can’t they? You can print off a selfie placard from our pledge page.
The Conservative Party claim the ban is in place as it would “give credence to factually inaccurate smears … The NHS is not for sale.” But it is.
See our letter to The Guardian in response to this revelation.
2. If “the NHS is not for sale”, why did the Conservative Party vote against a motion to save the NHS from privatisation in October?
Why we ask: Just days before the General Election was called, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth introduced a motion of regret calling the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to be repealed and for the NHS to be restored to public ownership and protected from future trade deals.
The Conservatives voted against, alongside their recently booted former colleagues and the DUP.
3. How are you going to plug the NHS staffing shortage, which stands at nearly 100,000?
Why we ask: Conservative Party policy from scrapping the nursing bursary in 2018 through to introducing migrant charges to migrant NHS workers this week has worsened staffing shortages. These will worsen the winter crisis and patient safety.
Since the bursary for nurses and allied healthcare professionals was scrapped in England, applications for nursing courses have dropped 30 per cent. There are nearly 40,000 nurse vacancies at present and the situation is set to worsen as one in three nurses are due to retire in the next 10 years. The Conservatives have slammed the SNP over its failure to tackle this problem in Scotland where one in five are set to retire soon, so why haven’t they tackled the problem on their watch in England?
Failure to provide EU nationals with reassurance they will be allowed to remain and work in the UK after it leaves the EU has caused uncertainty for many NHS staff. While Priti Patel promised at Conservative Party conference to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system to “take back control of our borders”, Sajid Javid was forced to admit last year that the current visa system caused “problems” for NHS recruitment as over 100 doctors were revealed to have had their visas denied in the midst of a staffing crisis.
4. Why can’t the Conservative Party tell the truth?
Why we ask: Boris Johnson and others insist on repeatedly making statements about the NHS that have been debunked.
- “40 NHS hospitals” – In fact the money will refurbish six and the rest will get some more money. There is a £6 billion blackhole of refurbishment that needs doing anyway.
- “The will inject the largest amount of money into the NHS in its history” – Uses unadjusted cash figures which means the real figure is £12billion less than promised.
- “More doctors and nurses” – There are nearly 40,000 nurse vacancies and 10,000 doctor vacancies. There are fewer nurses per patient now than ten years ago, before the Tories came into power.
- “The NHS is not for sale” – Yet Conservative Ministers have discussed potentially raising drug prices under a future trade deal with the US.
5 .Why are you charging migrants, including migrant NHS workers, twice for accessing the NHS?
This week the Conservatives unveiled plans to charge migrant workers, including doctors and nurses, £625 a year to access NHS services. They claimed this was to ensure new migrants made a “fair contribution” to running the NHS, but they already pay the same taxes we all do if they are living and working here.