Ex West Cornwall MP and health campaigner Andrew George has recently spoken at another cross-party event, this time in Surrey, to promote the idea of co-operation within the progressive parties to campaign for the NHS with one voice.
With the imminent creation of a Accountable Care System for Cornwall, a public /private partnership to manage NHS services, Mr George calls warns the council of the ‘booby-tapped chalice’ and calls on the council to speak with one voice, “otherwise the whole thing will become more toxic than it’s worth for the good health of Cornwall’s patients and our NHS”.
Comment & Opinion – Andrew George
Our NHS – above Party politics?
Asked to speak at a national debate on the NHS last week I was impressed by the common ground and agreement across all Parties. Speakers from The Green Party, Labour, the NHS Action Party and I agreed patients must come before profit, that politicians should honestly explain to the public that the NHS needs more money, even if it means increasing taxation.
It was just unfortunate that the MP for the SW Surrey constituency in which we held the debate – the Conservative Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt – claimed that he was unable to attend, even though he had the least far to come!
The event was well chaired by Steve Williams who had been a member of the Labour Party for over 45 years but found himself and two equally long-loyal colleagues expelled this year from the Party for daring to suggest that Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the NHS Action Party should work together in seats like SW Surrey, to promote ‘progressive’ politics.
Unfortunately, the NHS will remain in serious jeopardy if some Parties continue see it as a political football rather than cooperate to save it.
- Will Cornwall lead the way?
You’ll be hearing rumblings that Cornwall Council may be asked to take greater responsibility for managing our NHS. On the face of it it’s a good opportunity to improve health and social care integration and for greater democratic accountability.
However, given past form, many suspect that, in reality, it’s a heavily booby-trapped poisoned chalice. Cornwall deserves cast iron evidence to show it doesn’t come with: i) ) a massive inherited debt; ii) pressure to invite profit making companies to cherry pick the easy and profitable bits (leaving the difficult and expensive stuff to the public sector); and iii) the passporting responsibility for Government plans to cut £270m from Cornwall’s NHS by 2020.
This is an occasion when the Council can only act as a whole. When rational scrutiny and discussion is required by all Parties working to pursue the best outcome. We know that some areas, like Labour dominated Manchester have already approved plans to do much the same. But that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for Cornwall.
As above, “the NHS will remain in serious jeopardy if some Parties merely see it as a political football. NOTHING should be agreed unless and until ALL parties agree. Otherwise the whole thing will become more toxic than it’s worth for the good health of Cornwall’s patients and our NHS.
There’s still time to look at this with great care. It’s clearly far too early for any politicians to start throwing toys out of prams. So I assume the discourse is calm and rational at County Hall whilst information and evidence is being gathered? Experience suggests I’d be naive to expect such a grown up response, but we all have to live in hope, don’t you agree…?