Tony O’Sullivan, chair of Keep Our NHS Public, reflects on events at the Labour Party Conference September 2017:
“Progress was made on Tuesday 26 September at the Labour Party Conference: an excellent motion was passed including a robust call for a defence of the NHS now and a move to reinstate it ‘as per the NHS Bill (2016-17)’. (You can read the full motion below.)
Moved by Alex Scott-Samuel of the Socialist Health Association and seconded by Sue Richards of Islington CLP – both members of Keep Our NHS Public, the motion received strong support and was carried. It names accountable care systems and accountable care organisations as a dangerous move towards enforced capping of damaging cut budgets, which would lead to restricted access to a diminished range of services – the inevitable result of the imposed, disastrous £22bn of underfunding of the annual NHS budget by 2020/21.
The motions goes further. It opposes the sell-off of £5bn of NHS estate planned under the Naylor Review adopted by the Conservatives. Under the terms of this motion, the 2012 Health & Social Care Act would be replaced by legislation restoring a universal and comprehensive fully publicly funded, owned and provided NHS restoring full duties to the Secretary of State. This reaffirmed the position the 2016 conference voted for, but which had not been adopted by the Shadow team.
On Sunday 17 September, Jeremy Corbyn stated his commitment on the Andrew Marr Show that the Labour Party would adopt conference-agreed policy direction. If this practice is realised, then we could be on the cusp of a dramatic strengthening of commitment from Labour – confident as they are in predicting they will be the next government – to restoring the NHS to its former vision. The policy as agreed would end the era of privatisation, and of internal or external markets, would end use of new PFI contracts and bring back into the NHS’ the current PFIs used to extract profits from NHS core funding and undermining the stablility of so many NHS hospitals and trusts and deliberate defunding of the NHS. There is also the commitment to reinstating NHS student bursaries and an end to the pay cap impoverishing and demoralising the 1.3 million NHS staff. The end to the ideological defunding of the NHS will require greater level of funding than is currently being recognised.
Great work was done in achieving the adoption of this motion by NHS campaigners in the Labour Party. And related work helping to strengthen the mood for change included the #NHSTakeback pledge and Allyson Pollock’s paper in OurNHS on Labour’s manifesto – those involved include We Own It, the Campaign for NHS Reinstatement Bill, Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, OurNHS, Socialist Health Association, NHS Support Federation, Doctors for the NHS, Momentum, 999 and others.
It is important to follow up these important developments in discussions with the Labour shadow team.”
Alex Scott Samuel’s speech at the Labour Party Conference:
Sue Richards speech at the Labour Party Conference:
Contemporary Composite Motion 8: NHS
- The NHS Accountable Care System (ACS) contracts announced on 7 August impose a basis for 44+ local health services to replace England’s NHS. This has bypassed
Parliamentary debate and due legislative process.
- On 9 August, the House of Commons Library revealed a doubling of the number of NHS sites being sold off. 117 of these currently provide clinical services.
Like their US templates, ACSs will provide limited services on restricted budgets, replacing NHS hospitals with deskilled community units.
This will worsen health indicators like the long term increase in life expectancy, stalled since 2010.
The ACSs and asset sell-off result directly from the 5 Year Forward View (5YFV) currently being implemented via Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs). The 5YFV precisely reflects healthcare multinationals’ global policy aims.
Labour opposes ACSs.
New legal opinion finds STPs lack any legal powers or status under the 2012 Act: yet they seek through bureaucratic means to eliminate or override the already minimal remaining level of local accountability and democratic control over NHS commissioning and provision. They could eliminate remaining statutory powers and rights of local authorities, commissioners and providers. Many of these also outline plans to establish ‘Accountable Care Systems’.
Conference condemns the current Tory NHS pay cap for all staff and the scrapping of the university training bursary for health Students as significant contributors to the current staffing crisis.
Conference welcomes the commitments made in the Labour manifesto to scrap the pay cap for NHS staff.This Conference Calls on our Party to restore our NHS by
reversing All privatisation and permanently halting STPs and ACSs.
Labour is committed to an NHS which is publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable. We therefore call on the Party to oppose and reverse funding cuts
meeting Western European levels.
Conference opposes FYFV policy:
- downskilling clinical staff;
- Tory cuts to the NHS including the Capped Expenditure Process;
- the sell-off of NHS sites;
- reclassifying NHS services as means-tested social care;
- cementing the private sector role as ACS partners and as combined health/social care service providers.
- replacing 7500 GP surgeries with 1500 “superhubs”.
Conference recognises that reversing this process demands more than amending the 2012 Health & Social Care Act and calls for our next manifesto to include existing
Party policy to restore our fully-funded, comprehensive, universal, publicly-provided and owned NHS without user charges, as per the NHS Bill (2016-17).
Conference opposes the Naylor Reports call for a fire-sale of NHS assets and instead resolves that the next Labour government will invest at least £10 billion in the capital
needs of the NHS.
Conference therefore calls on all sections of the Party to join with patients, health-workers, trade unions and all other NHS supporters to campaign for:
- increasing recruitment and training
- an NHS that is publicly owned, funded, provided and accountable;
- urgent reductions in waiting-times;
- adequate funding for all services, including mental health services;
- tackling the causes of ill-health, e.g. austerity, poverty and poor housing, via a properly funded public health programme;
- reversing privatisation, PFIs and the debts which they entail;
- reversing private involvement in NHS management and provision;
- recognition of the continuing vital NHS role of EU nationals;
- constructive engagement with NHS staff-organisations;
- rejecting the Tories Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs) as vehicles for cuts in services;
- urgent reductions in waiting-times;
- scrapping the Tories’ austerity cap on pay-levels; restoration of NHS student bursaries;
- excluding NHS from free trade agreements and repeal and reverse the 2012 Act, to reinstate and reintegrate the NHS as a public service, publicly provided, and strengthen democratic accountability.
Conference welcomes Labour’s commitment to making child health a national priority, including investment in children’s and adolescents’ mental health services.
Labour created our NHS. Labour must now defend it.
Mover: Socialist Heath Association
Seconder: Islington South and Finsbury