Voting Yes to Protect the NHS


NHS_Campaign_Edit_1010x367I know how much local people value our NHS.  Sixty six years after the then Labour government created it, the principle that everyone – rich or poor, man, woman or child – can use any part of our health service is more important than ever.  But during this parliament it has undergone huge and damaging changes.  £3 billion has been wasted on a top-down reorganisation that the Conservatives promised wouldn’t happen.  Over 4,000 NHS staff have been laid off and then rehired, many on six-figure salaries.

Now more than ever we need action to save our NHS. Many local people have written to me about Clive Efford’s Private Member’s Bill, which would give MPs an opportunity to repeal the damaging competition rules that the Conservative-led government have inflicted on the NHS.  The Bill would rewrite the rules that force market tendering of services – which are resulting in millions of pounds being spent on competition lawyers, rather than on patients.

I wanted to let local people know that I will have no hesitation in voting for this Bill – to ensure that patients in Birmingham Northfield are put first once again.

The NHS is facing huge challenges and it has never been more vulnerable than under the present government.  Local people tell me that they are struggling to get appointments with their GP, and doctors are telling me they are struggling to cope.  The latest figures show that at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust from July to September this year over 1,500 people waited longer than four hours in our local hospitals – and many on trolleys, waiting for beds.  With a crisis in A&E and longer waiting times for treatment, what the NHS needs is money for more nurses, doctors, midwives and care workers – not an expensive reorganisation.

We need to give staff in the NHS the time to care for patients. That is why I welcome Ed Miliband’s promise to deliver 20,000 more nurses, 3,000 more midwives, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 extra home care workers if Labour is elected in 2015.  This will be paid for with a mansion tax on homes valued over £2 million, by clamping down on tax avoidance and tobacco companies.

I also wanted to let you know that should Clive Efford’s Private Members Bill fail to pass, Andy Burnham, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, has promised to repeal the Conservative-led government’s Health and Social Care Act. This will only happen under a Labour government.

Along with as many other Labour MPs, I can promise people in Northfield that I will be in Parliament on Friday 21 November to support this crucially important Bill.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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