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PATIENTS BEFORE PROFITS – LABOUR TO HALT THE GROWING TORY SELL-OFF OF OUR NHS

Andy Burnham will today (Saturday) say David Cameron has put founding NHS principles under threat and announce that a Labour government will legislate to put NHS patients first and reverse the Tory privatisation of the NHS.

This will include: 

  • tougher controls on Trusts’ Private Patient Income – to prevent the emergence of a two-tier healthcare system, where those who can pay for prompt access to treatment while waiting times lengthen for NHS patients; and,
  • measures to repeal the Tories’ market framework for the NHS and halt the drive towards privatisation. 

Labour will highlight new evidence of a growing NHS sell off since the Tories introduced their Health and Social Care Act, putting profits before patients: 

  • 40 per cent of all healthcare contracts have gone to private providers – the highest yet found by a survey of this kind – and the same proportion of contracts have gone to the private sector as the public sector. 
  • Private healthcare companies are reported as seeing increasing “opportunities” in the NHS due to the Tory-led Government’s privatisation agenda. 
  • At the same time the Tories have received over £20m in donations from 53 hedge funds with investments in private healthcare. 

Labour will also highlight evidence that – since the abolition of the Private Patient Income cap – NHS patient care is suffering while Private Patient Income is growing: 

  • Average Private Patient Income per Foundation Trust is up 58% since 2010, including a 17% rise in the year the Tory-led Government abolished the Private Patient Income Cap. 
  • During the same period, waiting times for NHS patients, cancelled operations and bed occupancy rates have all got worse in Foundation Trusts, including: 
  • The proportion of FTs not meeting the 18-week waiting-time standard has increased four-fold, from 10% of FTs in May 2010 to 46% of FTs in February 2015
  • The bed occupancy rate for FTs rose from 83.6% in Q1 2010/11 to 88.5% in Q3 2014/15 – higher than the recommended 85% 
  • And across the NHS services are going backwards, with the number of 4-hour waits in A&E up four-fold since 2010, waiting lists at their highest for seven years, and the two-month cancer treatment target now missed for a whole year.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham will say that these Tory changes have put founding NHS principles under threat. He will say that if things are allowed to carry on as they are, with waiting times deteriorating and hospitals increasingly turning to Private Patient Income, then a two-tier system will emerge with those who can paying to get prompt access to treatment, while NHS patients are pushed to the back of the queue. 

He will announce that Labour will scrap David Cameron’s NHS market and put new safeguards in to place to ensure NHS patients are put first. 

To stop the growth of a two-tier system: 

  • Labour will introduce a 2 per cent limit on Private Patient Income, which trusts could only exceed if they are meeting strict safeguards to ensure NHS patients are put first. 
  • Trusts could not exceed this unless they were meeting key performance standards– including on waiting times and bed occupancy – or be able to show explicitly how the extra income is part of a plan to get standards back on track for NHS patients 

To stop the drive to privatisation: 

  • Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act to scrap David Cameron’s NHS market. This will include scrapping the rules that force services out to tender and repealing the competition regime that is tying up hospitals in competition law 
  • And where private companies are involved in delivering NHS-funded clinical services, Labour will cap the profits they can make from the NHS to ensure resources are spent on patient care 

Andy Burnham said: “David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt have not been honest with people about the scale and pace of privatisation on their watch. They’ve tried to play it down but these figures give people the real story before they go to vote. 

“People will be shocked to see private companies winning just as many contacts as the NHS and some with links to the Tory Party too. 

“With the growing financial crisis in the NHS, many hospitals are being forced to treat more private patients in NHS beds too. This is clear proof that the profit motive is ripping through the NHS. If it carries on, the NHS would be unrecognisable. 

“Nobody gave this Prime Minister permission to privatise their NHS. That’s why Thursday 7th May must be David Cameron’s day of reckoning on the NHS. Only by voting Labour can we stop the sell-off and put people before profits.”

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