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Burnham pledges to repeal NHS legislation focused on 'wrong values'

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The shadow health secretary has promised to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 before the summer because he claims it has put the “wrong values” at the centre of the NHS.

Andy Burnham said that if Labour won the election he would “inherit a demoralised and shattered service”, and he wanted to “give people hope that things can be better than they are at the moment… and that there is a better future for the NHS”.

In order to do this, he said he would “start” by repealing the 2012 legislation and pledged a commitment to integration between health and social care.

“I’ll start by repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012 before the summer recess,” he said. “Why? Because it puts the wrong values at the heart of the NHS – competition before compassion and collaboration.

“It’s time to call time on the market experiment in the NHS. I am clear that it’s not the answer to 21st century health and care. It  delivers fragmentation when the future demands the opposite, integration of care,” said Mr Burnham.

He said the Labour party would legislate for a single budget for health and social care, rather than continuing with the separate funding streams through the NHS and local government.

“I remain committed to national pay terms and conditions in the NHS and to Agenda for Change”

Andy Burnham

He claimed repealing parts of the act would not amount to reorganising the system and he would instead task health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups to focus on integration. Focussing on “whole person” care would be a priority for the future, he added.

The Labour health spokesman was speaking at an election hustings debate, hosted last month by the Royal College of Nursing at its headquarters in London.

Mr Burnham re-iterated his party’s commitment to recruiting 20,000 more nurses, 3,000 more midwives and 5,000 more care workers by 2020.

He said that if he were to become health secretary in May he would “immediately increase training commissions for this September”.

New entry routes into the nursing profession should also be created for care workers, he said.

Mr Burnham referred to the recent long-running government negotiations on NHS staff pay, saying the decision to refuse a blanket 1% pay rise for all was a “kick in the teeth” for a “demoralised” workforce.

When asked about whether he would commit to providing NHS pay rises in line with inflation in the future, Mr Burnham said the “crucial” thing would be to “re establish” the independent pay review body.

“I would do that for 2016-17,” he said. “I would make a clear commitment in doing so that I remain committed to national pay terms and conditions in the NHS and to Agenda for Change.”

“It’s time to call time on the market experiment in the NHS”

Andy Burnham

Meanwhile, he said he was committed to not attacking unsocial hours payments for nurses.

To address concerns around support for staff to speak out, the shadow health secretary said he would bring in an independent staff champion to help with whistleblowing and other workplace issues.

When asked about whether Labour was committed to plugging the estimated £8bn NHS funding gap by 2020, Mr Burnham said Labour would provide £2.5bn, which could then be added to the estimated £4bn savings made if the health and social care system were fully integrated.

The RCN’s election hustings event was also attended by Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb and Conservative health minister Dr Dan Poulter.

The three politicians debated with each other, facing a series of questions on nursing and NHS policy from the audience and the event’s chair, RCN head of campaigns and external affairs Jane Hughes.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • Labour: the Party who introduced the private-sector into the NHS no whingeing about the private-sector in the NHS... You couldn't make it up!

    It's just a shame Mr Burnham wasn't as open and honest when he attempted to cover-up the Mid Staffs crisis isn't it?

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  • Since when is the Mid Staffs a Private concern ?

    but yes its a good example of the mess certain areas of the NHS are in by the way did anyone notice the absense of the BBC Panorama team over the five years

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  • Anonymous | 2-Apr-2015 4:02 pm
    Wrote:
    "Labour: the Party who introduced the private-sector into the NHS no whingeing about the private-sector in the NHS... You couldn't make it up!"

    Don't let the facts get in the way of your rant: 1991 saw the introduction of the internal market: http://nhstimeline.nuffieldtrust.org.uk

    Blair did continue with Thatchers policies, something which the current Labour Party are moving away from, or put another way, moving to the centre ground. The Right believe that the market can provide solutions to any demand (& if you apply that to healthcare the USA is conveniently ignored by the Right when the argument falls down).

    The Torys believe that the State should not interfere in people's lives and if they are re-elected Osborne's proposals will shrink the State to 1930's levels.

    Other than an opportunity to make a fast buck, the NHS represents everything that the Tory's stand against. Bear in mind the experience of selling the Royal Mail - donors to the Tory party just happened to to be given preferential bidding status and despite promising to hold the shares, sold them almost immediately making a massive profit. Those same donors are circling over the potential (& inevitable, should The Torys be re-elected) break up of the NHS.

    Anon also wrote: "It's just a shame Mr Burnham wasn't as open and honest when he attempted to cover-up the Mid Staffs crisis isn't it?"

    I'm sure you have evidence for that statement?

    I came to the NHS because I believe in public service, and excellent care for all, not just those who can afford it.

    Use your vote wisely on May 7th. If you don't believe in the NHS and it's values, if you want to be seen simply as an overhead cost that should be reduced at every opportunity, if you want to be working simply for someone else's bottom line, then vote Tory.


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  • Regardless of political point scoring, if Burnham now recognises that past policies that seemed a good idea at the time but experience has shown that not to be the case, this is surely a positive demonstration of flexibility rather than political posturing?

    Also the allegation that he covered something up about Mid-Staffs sounds a bit libellous in the absence of evidence to back it up. I'm surprised NT hasn't picked up on this - unless they are complicit in the allegation.

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  • michael stone

    What strikes me about this 'debate' is not whether introducing private provision could 'get more for less' (although I have my doubts), but the fact that on the one hand almost everybody claims the NHS needs better co-ordination and joined-up working between community and hospital, across different healthcare professions, etc, while the private providers still seem able to thwart 'fully joined-up working' (and especially, fully joined-up information provision to analyse outcomes) by using the 'commercial interests' argument.

    The NHS while if wholly public-owned, would still struggle to be 'joined-up' - I find it impossible to not believe that more private providers, will inevitably lead to even less 'joining up'.

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