It strikes me that Manchester’s Labour politicians are muddled on the NHS reforms.
Manchester Labour’s been saying in the press recently that the changes to the NHS reforms do not “go nearly far enough” and that they want a “return to patients before profit”. They’re very confused – they’re leaping to the defence of the NHS when we’re finally getting changes that will put patients before profit!
Where was the Manchester Labour petition when the Labour Government diverted money meant for patient care to profit? In the last two years under Labour, £19m was forked out to private hospitals in Greater Manchester for operations on NHS patients that never took place. Labour should hold their heads in shame. Every penny of that should have gone to caring for patients.
And now, at the very moment that the Lib Dems have succeeded in banning cutthroat price competition between NHS and private hospitals, Labour’s suddenly woken up and trotted out a petition to fight for what the Lib Dems have already won.
Labour has forgotten, too, that they fought the last election on a manifesto promise for “sustained reform” to “safeguard the NHS in tougher fiscal times”. They promised “an active role” for private hospitals – with no mention of stopping the unfair advantage they gave to the private sector.
I’m going to go through the Bill with a fine toothcomb when it comes back to the Commons to see if any further improvements are needed. But the changes that have been announced are very welcome in my view.