Report of Meeting with Andy Burnham 3rd April, 2014
Alex Sobel, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Leeds NorthWest, kindly arranged for a group of Yorkshire NHS campaigners to meet with Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, (AB) prior to a Labour dinner in Leeds on Thursday 3rd April, 2014. York Defend our NHS, Sheffield Save our NHS, Leeds Keep our NHS Public, Leeds Hospital Alert, a surgeon from Bradford, Naveen Judah, National Health Action Party (NHAP) candidate for Sitwell, Rotherham and Jo Ritson from NHAP in Sheffield were present. A nurse practitioner from Huddersfield was unable to make the meeting at the last minute because she was asked to cover a shift due to staff sickness. She wanted to mention to Andy Burnham that:
“The NHS has run on good will of staff for years and it’s rapidly running out”
Clive Peedell, leader of the NHAP, joined the group, mentioning that his stance was an awareness raising one and to make the public aware that politicians were destroying the NHS.
Anne Leonard (York) handed over a letter written on behalf of the York group to AB in September 2013 that had received no response, despite chasing in various ways including through Hugh Bayley MP for York Central. AB apologised and said he receives a lot of letters which he then handed to an assistant – we now await a response.
AB briefly outlined his concerns regarding the reorganisation and how he thought that commissioning should transfer to health and wellbeing boards.
We raised our concern that there didn’t seem to be a consensus view in Labour Party over the NHS in general or the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) in particular – AB thought the main thing was to get NHS excluded from the TTIP and had been to Brussels on the Wednesday to argue for the exclusion of the NHS.
Anne asked about repealing the Health and Social Care Act (H&SCA) as she said it wouldn’t work since an immediate repeal would mean a further wholesale and possibly fatal top/down reorganisation.
AB said he did not mean a whole scale scrapping but a phased change, the focus was on getting rid of Part 3 of Act.
Chris (Bradford) raised concerns about the financial burden of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) upon the NHS and hospitals.
Clive put forward some strong arguments for the funding gap to be replaced by taxation and tax-avoidance recovery.
Clive mentioned there are not enough GP’s to do jobs let alone sit on CCG’s and do commissioning.
Clive said Monitor should go! It had been put in place by Labour and was basically McKinsey
Mick (York) asked about the LibDems role? AB said they (in the Coalition) had betrayed the NHS.
Contributions to the Labour Party manifesto were suggested and discussion of campaigning to get the NHS higher up the agenda.
We asked: what happens if AB was offered a better opportunity IF Labour got in?
Clive used the term critical friend and Jo said the last thing we wanted was to split any labour vote although realistically it was agreed NHAP would only be awareness raising anyway. Clive also said that we understood that there were others in his party that were not as convinced as he was.
Anne said that the Labour Party needs us (articulating and representing nationwide opposition to the H&SC Act) as much as we need it (recognising that a Labour defeat at the next election will be the end of the NHS). Therefore it’s vital that they take on board what we’re saying and make their position clear.
Clive also said they would have support from us if they committed to what we agree upon but if they did NOT then we would challenge them. AB was very serious faced when he was hearing this!
The group were encouraged by AB to put forward policy ideas on the NHS to the Labour Party which was currently developing its stance and has a big meeting in July on that.