Labour attacks its own privatisation of the NHS

Owen Smith’s drive to the left and search for popularity has brought him to one of Labour’s oldest scare tactics – claiming the Tories have a secret plan to privatise the NHS.

Labour have claimed this every time the Conservatives are in government, and every time we fight a General election. During the long periods of Conservative government since the NHS was established the party has resolutely stuck to the principle of free at the point of need, and has maintained a largely public sector NHS workforce.

Labour in office has introduced prescription charges and charges for dentistry and glasses, which Conservatives have kept. Labour introduced wide ranging PFI contracts. involving the private sector much more in new projects and in carrying out clinical functions for the NHS. Conservatives have sought to reduce PFI use  and to get better value for money from some of the contracts Labour signed.

Both parties in office have relied extensively on private sector companies for a wide range of goods and services for the NHS. Both have bought all the drugs the service needs from private sector concerns. Both have used some private sector builders, cleaners, caterers and other support services. Both parties have allowed GPs and dentists to be private sector businesses contracting with the NHS for much of their workload. Both have occasionally bought clinical capacity from private providers.

So why doesn’t the media ask Mr Smith a few more pertinent questions. Does he intend to nationalise drug companies? Does he intend to take all cleaning, catering, building and other activities in house? Will he discontinue all contracting out, and stop all new PFI contracts? How much does he think such changes would cost? Why were previous Labour governments so wrong to use the private sector in this way?


  1. Mark B
    August 18, 2016

    Good morning.

    They are doing what all politicians do when faced with some sort of election. Making promises that they cannot, or have no intention of fulfilling. It is why so many are becoming more and more cynical with them.

  2. Lifelogic
    August 18, 2016

    Well do not expect BBC reporters to ask any sensible questions to Labour about the NHS. The dire, free at the point of rationing, incompetence and non treatment NHS is a religion to them. As are:- climate alarmism, “renewables”, love of the the EU, the PC equality agenda, their anti-selective school agenda and their belief in magic money tree economics.

    Cameron said the NHS was his priority in three letter but it deteriorated hugely during his time in office. As currently structured it can never work efficiently, this surely is obvious to everyone sensible.

    It seems that there is little much sense in Greg Clark’s department of Business and Energy. It seems the World’s largest wind farm is going to go ahead fuelled by £billions in subsidies and “preferential” deals forced on to energy distributors. Is no one there numerate or able to understand the low real value of thus intermittent wind energy?

    What is really driving this bird killing, industry killing expensive intermittent energy lunacy. Follow the money I suppose. It is certainly not driven by sound engineering or sound economics.

  3. Margaret
    August 18, 2016

    As far as I am concerned labour ruined the NHS. My experiences chime with many others. From a sister in charge of a ward, awaiting relocation(which didn’t happen) if my ward was closed which , I was thrown out into agency work travelling every day to a different location one time taking charge of a ward another to be pushed down by inadequate staff brought in from overseas. Managers were brought in who new nothing about health and tried to run peoples illness like a business. Private contractors when explained how things are managed to suit the individual and their progress couldn’t understand . They assumed that newly qualified Drs had as much knowledge as Nurse with 20 or more years experience in that area, they assumed that if you have a medical degree then you were far superior to those who had been doing the job for years and brought in overseas Drs who were paid phenomenal sessional wages and couldn’t do the job or speak the language.
    Our own newly qualified Drs couldn’t get jobs and were pushed down by overseas Drs who many had an arrogant take on their own qualification which in comparison to our Drs was A level standard.
    Nurses like myself went on hundreds of interviews trying to get a job whilst universities repeatedly put overseas Nurses in what should have been our places. They tried to say we were overqualified but all we were asking was for a job that wasn’t private or agency.
    This was labour ; but there again some say it was the tory element who facilitated this.

  4. Lifelogic
    August 18, 2016

    Excellent piece by Allister Heath today which amazingly claims:- There are 23 universities from which the median male graduate earns less ten years after graduating than the median UK non-graduate Government expenditure on these is probably as damaging as their subsidies for wind, photo-voltaics and “lagoons”. I assume they also lost three years of income and ended up with a large debt to repay. What is the point of these “Universities”?

    Even many “top” universities offer a fairly second rate service and have failed to modernise and make sensible efficiencies with modern technology. When people do earn more, post graduation, it is usually because they were brighter to start off with anyway, had better contacts or both.

  5. Antisthenes
    August 18, 2016

    How can Labour ever be an effective opposition when they advocate Marxist and duplicitous policies that we know from experience can only make the situation worse. Yesterday a shadow something or other was being interviewed about the employment figures. First of all she was complimentary then ripped into the Tories for being wicked because the masses are so down trodden. Not one constructive criticism in any of the diatribe, she waffled like an idealistic 5th former. Blarite Labour may not be up to much but it being in opposition would effectively keep the Conservative government on their toes. Under Corbyn or Smith the opposition will be of a calibre no higher than that of petulant school children.

  6. Ed Mahony
    August 18, 2016

    I think Labour’s finished. Under Attlee, Labour did some really good things. And subsequent Labour governments (to a degree – I’m no Labour supporter). But it no longer has a raison d’etre. And individuals in the Conservative Party are simply better at running government (cleverer and more pragmatic overall).
    The sooner Labour joins the Libs to form a centre left party (focusing more on business and the economy to pay for whatever public services the party wants) and the Conservatives return more to the centre right (above all, focusing more on helping to build up the industries of health technology, technology services and electronic technology, instead of just leaving it more-a-less exclusively to the markets – by helping entrepreneurs more in general, investment, specific skills and education, and to have some kind of overall plan/strategy for the high-high tech industry overall), the better for this country.

  7. The PrangWizard
    August 18, 2016

    So why doesn’t the media ask Mr Smith some more pertinent questions…….?

    So why doesn’t your party speak out more forcibly? As you say we hear these scare stories the whole time.

    We ought to hear more truth about the NHS and its failings of staff, its waste and mismanagement and misuse and abuse; it is not the wonder that its propaganda spinners and its blinkered supporters claim it to be – and it is not a lack of money.
    Just how many more of our people need to die from neglect, negligence or carelessness before something sensible is done and the real problems are tackled?

    Your party and government seems to have given up on all that and fall for the response to criticism of inadequacies with promises of yet more money as the solution. You included I believe.

    You can’t expect the media to do much if your party lacks the confidence and belief in itself and keeps its head down, they need to be given a lead – maybe there are too many in your party who sympathise with Mr Smith.

  8. JimS
    August 18, 2016

    Several years ago there was a BBC Analysis programme on PFI. It was remarkable in than no-one was in favour of PFI, it was a bad idea that no-one expected to be taken up.

    Government can create money, raise taxes or borrow at the cheapest rates so why get someone else to borrow money as risk capital, pay them for it and pay them a profit premium on top? Stupid!

    The answer is that it is an accountancy scam whereby government pretends that capital spend is current spend. This is false accounting and those responsible should have been prosecuted.

  9. Ian Wragg
    August 18, 2016

    The PFI contracts signed by Brown were a travesty. Our local hospital pays 30% of its budget servicing the debt.
    Allegedly it costs about £80 to change a lamp as site staff have to call the main contractor in for such a simple task.
    The NHS is in crisis and the sooner it’s broken up the better… perhaps then they will start to treat only the people who are entitled.
    My experience of the NHS is abysmal. Fortunately we have the funds to go private.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 18, 2016

      Indeed and many more could go privately with some tax breaks for insurance or just if they were told the truth by the NHS. You need an X op, but will have to wait for years for it on the NHS so best if you go privately mate.

    2. Hope
      August 18, 2016

      Possibly not as bad as the Tories who denied the public the right to vote for the PM and have chosen a scaremongering pro remain EU PM to lead us out of the EU! To do so she has chosen all her scaremongering remain colleagues to help her! As you stated before one of the most important decisions for our country and look what your party has done. Is there any surprise she has not started the process by not invoking article 50, negotiations would not happen straight away and if the EU asked for such they could be put off. It is such a nonsense.

      You supported and crowed about Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, supported his stance on negotiations and what he stated he would do, yet have never apologised when he failed to deliver what he promised, including article 50 when we voted to leave. You keep writing about Labour instead of looking in the mirror at your own party and ask a few serious questions including the whitewash report out yesterday concerning bullying. The lopsided cabinet, why Rudd is Home Secretary after her hate filled bile EU debate on TV, Hammond chancellor after his scaremongering, Fallon the same. The lists are endless. Any prospect of an Inquiry over Lybia or Syria interventions when there was no UK interest. Cameron acting beyond the UN remit to cause regime change and havoc to Lybia, exacerbating the Syrian conflict by helping the alleged rebels with our taxes! I Tories were going to reduce the number of SPADS, have a bonfire of quangos, what is now stoping this from happening?

      Reply I helped secure the referendum from Mr Cameron. I always said I th0ught it unlikely Mr Cameron would secure what I wanted from the negotiations, which was the restoration of UK sovereignty. I declared for Leave and campaigned actively to leave. I consistently argued that to get out of the EU we needed a) to persuade the Conservative party to back a referendum, help it win an election, and then win the referendum. That is exactly what we did, so maybe you bring yourself to show some support for what turned out to be the winning strategy.

      1. Hope
        August 19, 2016

        JR, you are deluded if you actually believe that. The scare from the rise of UKIP and UKIP winning the last EU elections forced Cameron’s hand. Undoubtedly you always wanted out of the EU and worked hard to achieve that aim. You were and are ignored by the leadership of your party. Do not attribute the EU referendum as some sort of Tory victory. Most of your party want to remain in. Cameron clearly was trying to deceive the public, like his party, that he was Eurosceptic. May carrying on where he left off. You supported his Bloomberg speech as some sort of Tory achievement when it turned out to be an utter sham/deceit. They putting the national interest before party in the future.

        Reply I was there at the meetings with the PM to secure the referendum. Mr Farage was not, and UKIP was not on the agenda.

    3. Iain Gill
      August 18, 2016

      My experience with the NHS is worse than abysmal. The problem with the parts of the private sector involved in the NHS is that like the main body of state owned and operated services they are completely and utterly removed from any consumer decision making. It is only end customers ability to take their business elsewhere for any reason at all that keeps normal free market consumer facing businesses efficient, it is this part of the private sector model the NHS needs. I don’t have a problem with us all insuring each other via a state owned health insurance scheme, paying in according to ability to pay, and getting out according to need. But I do have a problem with when it comes time to claim on this deal that rationing, and lies about what the best treatments would be, are the order of the day and I have no ability to take my spend where I feel would be best.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 18, 2016


  10. Lifelogic
    August 18, 2016

    Debates of any issues on the BBC rarely ask any sensible questions. Any debate is pre framed in the usual absurd BBC think Manor. All government spending is regarded as “investment”. With regard to the NHS almost everyone just comes on and says how wonderful the NHS is, that they use it and found it wonderful for their “mother” or other relative and that they would give it even more of other people’s money to largely waste.

    Cameron is as guilty as all the other socialists in this regard. More so in fact as he is dishonest and pretends to be “a low tax at heart Conservative”. But is May a Conservative or not. Has she made up her mind yet in those Swiss mountains?

    1. Lifelogic
      August 18, 2016


    2. Lifelogic
      August 18, 2016

      Yet another sign that the Theresa May/Hammond government likely to be almost as dire and misguided as the Cameron/Osborne one was.
      It seems they have decided to keep Osborne’s bonkers sugar tax.

      Why just sugar? Carbohydrates turn to sugars in the body just the same, so why not also a tax on flour, oatmeal, rice, potatoes, bananas, tropical & dried fruits, beetroot, pasta, apples ……

      The general rule for Hammond should be that if Osborne (or Brown) introduced it then it almost certainly needs to be totally undone, the rates hugely reduced or at least hugely simplified. Osborne was clearly economically illiterate (as we saw with his threats of higher mortgage rates and his I will mug you if you dare to “vote leave” budget threat). Daft taxes like these cost everyone loads and lower productivity and prevent the UK competing in the world. Lots of parasitic non jobs.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        August 19, 2016

        That’s not the main problem. They’ve kept on Osborne’s bonkers Governor of the Bank of England. The reduction in base rate and the additional QE were the exact OPPOSITE of what the UK economy needs. They were a quack remedy to address a non-existent problem (a Brexit induced recession).

        How many modern economists are there whose heads are not filled with neo-Keynesian nonsense? Nigel Lawson, Patrick Minford, Tim Congdon, Liam Halligan, Max Keiser? The first three are elderly and the last two are unlikely to be invited to be Governor of the BoE. It’s a thin field.

      2. Malcolm Lidierth
        August 19, 2016

        Sugar from sugar-cane has been heavily taxed by EU for years. Not so for sugar from beet. Prevents developing world gaining access to EU.

    3. Mitchel
      August 18, 2016

      Her few utterances so far have been distinctly whiggish.

      Lovely article from Peter Hitchens- in his own inimitable style-in today’s issue of The Spectator :”Take it from an ex-Trot:Labour needn’t worry about Trotskyists”

      “And so the real revolution in the Labour party,which most of Fleet Street has never understood,was inflicted not by Trotskyists,but by the legions of the dull-Eurocommunists who realised that Bolshevism was obsolete,quietly captured think tanks and policy committees,and used the apolitical figure of Tony Blair to front a Gramscian cultural,constitutional,educational and sexual revolution whose greatest triumph was to capture the Tory party as well as the Labour party.

      It is a pity Gramsci is so much harder to pronounced than Trotsky.But I fear whose who shriek and point at Trotskyist bogeyman in Jeremy Corbyn’s party will never understand what the real danger is.Indeed,they may be part of it themselves.”

      And I learned something new-if you really want to offend a Trotskyist,call them a Trotskyite!

    4. rose
      August 18, 2016

      Are these people conservatives or not and have they made up their minds?

      Fiona Hill

      Lizzie Loudon

      Nick Hargrave

      Nick Timothy

      Liz Sanderson

      Alex Dawson

      John Godfrey

      Sheridan Westlake

      Will Tanner

      Katie Perrior

      Neil O’Brien

      Jimmy McLoughlin

      Stephen Parkinson

      Richard Chew

      We were given to understand that she was going to limit ministers to two spin doctors each. She used to have three at the HO herself, to brief the press against her colleagues. We have already had one leak from her people, against Liam Fox and Boris, with a female chauvinist spin attached to it, and it is only August.

      1. Qubus
        August 18, 2016

        Never heard of any of them !

      2. Roy Grainger
        August 18, 2016

        She seems to be following exactly Matthew Parris’ Remainiac strategy. Give the Brexit ministers enough rope to hang themselves, with a bit of help from unattributed briefings against them from Number 10.

        Liam Fox’s points seemed perfectly valid. Why should “economic diplomacy” remain in FCO when Mrs May has created a new department for Foreign Trade ?

        1. rose
          August 18, 2016

          Yes, Fox’s letter was reasonable and Boris’s response was civilized. Hardly a turf war. Until her people got involved. Best not to copy her in.

        2. Lifelogic
          August 19, 2016

          Matthew Parris is consistently wrong on everything and has been for donkeys years. Doubless why he is a favourite on the BBC.

        3. Lifelogic
          August 19, 2016

          Matthew Parris does very occasionally get something right:- “I managed without those detestable walking poles” he says in the Spectator today.

          1. rose
            August 19, 2016

            And he was right about Blair when everyone else in the Bubble was being bowled over.

    5. Lindsay McDougall
      August 19, 2016

      The parliamentary Conservative Party is allowed to trigger a leadership election every year if there is a demand for it. Let Mrs May know that politicians who voted Remain are not untouchable. That might influence her conduct.

  11. Mick
    August 18, 2016

    Your right in your thinking Mr Redwood, the Labour Party promise you the earth then give you a window box, I stopped voting labour two GE ago because of the mess they had made of our great country, who ever wins the contest you can only hope they go down like a lead balloon like the lib’s, I’m also getting abit worried not hearing any positive news about Brexit why carn’t Mrs May just anounce article 50 and start the process of getting us out, as for freedom of movement I don’t see America or Canada or any other country outside of Europe excepting free movement to do a deal so where’s the problem!!!!

    1. Antisthenes
      August 18, 2016

      The problem is that the UK is dealing with a technocracy and a rather bitter one as well. So because they will want to steal as much as they can and will want to justify their overpaid existence they will insist on all the legal niceties and adherence to every provision of the EU treaties that the UK foolishly signed up to and even more foolishly failed to read the small print on them.

      It could be settled very quickly if there is good will on both sides but that is sadly lacking from the EU side. All that is needed is for the UK to decide on what it’s future relationship with the EU should be. Even that is not without considerable difficulty as agreeing just that there is no consensus. Those are the first hurdles to tackle.

      Then the EU annul the present treaties and start creating a new one. A completed one will take years as predicted but that should not be a bar to the UK leaving within two. The answer is to have an interim treaty that includes all the areas of cooperation that currently exist that the UK will wish to continue after Brexit. Keep trade tariff free as there is no benefit to the EU to do otherwise. It may harm the UK so that may need to be revisited at a later date as may all the other aspects of the interim treaty. Anything else that cannot be agreed upon to be put in abeyance until such time that it can. Budgets and common policies suspended that are not in the interim treaty(and are therefore contentious) until such time as agreement on them can be reached. What can the EU object to kicking the can down the road is their forte after all.

    2. Denis Cooper
      August 18, 2016

      The government cannot serve the Article 50 notice while there are still legal proceedings to try to stop it doing so without further authorisation from Parliament, which might or might not be forthcoming – of course those who have brought the cases hope that it would not be given and so we would be kept in the EU. However I suspect that the government is also choosing to hold back because it is not yet organised to deal with the negotiations. It would be interesting to know who told Cameron that he should not keep his promise by putting in that notice immediately after the referendum, which allowed the diehard Remainders time to mount their attempts to stop us leaving. I noticed that on Channel 4 News last night George Osborne’s economic adviser said that “there are degrees of leaving”, so the risk is that Brexit will mean only a degree of Brexit.

    3. Bob
      August 18, 2016


      “getting a bit worried not hearing any positive news about Brexit why carn’t Mrs May just anounce article 50 and start the process of getting us out”

      Guido Fawkes reports that Osborne’s former aide and Project Fear spinmeister James Chapman is to be David Davis’ SpAd at the new Brexit department.

      1. alan jutson
        August 18, 2016


        Money talks and sometimes influences opinion, not much money left in the Remain argument now, so you may see a few more Universities, Charities, Farming organisations and other Economic and Financial Experts who were funded by the EU in past times change their minds in the future.

        Always follow the money trail, surprising what it turns up, and its sometimes surprising who will sell their sole for a few coppers.

  12. LeaveWon
    August 18, 2016

    So useful to have these short summaries of actual facts put on record for posterity, the public ( and the media/establishment ). It’s great. It’s like an anti propaganda resistance.

  13. agricola
    August 18, 2016

    What you say is factually correct.

    The state as the runner of the NHS does not necessarily produce better outcomes than anyone else running it however. The important essential of the NHS is that it is free at the point of need. It is a freedom that needs to be laced with a sense of responsibility. To arouse that sense of responsibility I see no reason why patients should not pay a percentage towards drugs and advanced solutions towards teeth and eyes while basic solutions remain free. Cosmetic surgery should be paid for by the patient unless decreed a necessity through birth defects , accident, or major surgery.

    The only reason I hesitate to say that the whole service should be privatised while remaining free for the patient, is that I doubt the ability of government to control it. Government has made a very poor job of running it as it is. They seem to operate on the principal of problem solving by the application of an endless money stream. In effect you end up with an entity which would be bankrupt were it run as it is now, but in the private sector. In fact looking at other things the government supposedly runs, defence, environment, energy supply and railways, is there anything they are capable of.

    A government run NHS like democracy itself is fraught with problems, but still the better choice. It could be even better were some professionalism injected into the government department that runs it by applying some of the strictures that would pertain in a commercial organisation.

  14. Mr Sakara Gold
    August 18, 2016

    An interesting description of how both political parties have funded and allowed the NHS to remain in the public sector – the NHS is now the largest public organisation in the UK with 1.3 million employees and is the fifth largest employer in the world.

    Given the recent VW diesel emissions scandal, the fact that the air in London is virtually unbreathable and is causing an increasing number of deaths annually, coupled with the scientifically proven fact of global warming, it is encouraging that in spite of the climate change deniers the UK has developed renewable sources of energy and is now a world leader in this technology. The sector now employs nearly 90,000 people in the UK.

    Wind power delivers a growing percentage of the energy in the UK, which at the end of June 2016 consisted of 6,857 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 13.9 gigawatts; 8,841 megawatts of onshore capacity and 5,098 megawatts of offshore capacity. The wind is always blowing somewhere in the UK – a reliable, inexhaustible and cheap source of energy will be delivering roughly 20% of the nations electricity by 2020 and this remarkable achievement has been delivered at a far lower cost than the delayed Hinkley point nuclear power station! Not bad for a bit of greencrap, eh?

  15. Anthony Makara
    August 18, 2016

    Let’s face it Owen Smith is a champagne socialist, like all the others in Labour who claim to be the voice of the dispossessed. That is the problem with the Labour Party. It has ancient ties with working class movements but as an organization, especially when in power, Labour has always reverted to it’s upper middle class instincts and has done nothing to help working class people. The fact is, Labour MPs tend to come from the upper middle class, as do Labour’s supporters in the media, liberal print hacks and those leftist foul-mouthed comics who dominate the BBC at the public expense. These people do not understand or represent ordinary working people. What’s more these people don’t have a moral claim to the NHS either. Owen Smith is a (adjective left out ed) opportunist and will say anything to get to the top, but we can be sure that if he does become Labour leader, or if he became PM, he wouldn’t do a thing to improve the NHS or help working class people. Owen Smith is a …… and using the NHS to further his own ends.

  16. Roy Grainger
    August 18, 2016

    Smith’s problem is he needs to appear even more left-wing on the NHS than Corbyn to atone for his previous employment with one of the hated multi-national drugs companies. Anyway it is all academic, his plan to have a cosy round-table chat with ISIS has scuppered whatever slim chance he had of winning the leadership election.

  17. alan jutson
    August 18, 2016

    The simple fact is that Labour as a Party are BANKRUPT of any positive ideas, all they want to do is borrow more money and “HOPE” to pay for it with tax rises.

    The biggest Lie of all, is calling borrowing investment.

    PFI Contracts are just Higher Purchase contracts under another title, Higher Purchase Price would be a better description for such a scheme.

    Corbin wants to renationalise the railways, when the track is already in public ownership.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with using private companies, if they can provide the same quality service or better, at a more competitive price.

    The problem with the NHS is one of mismanagement.
    We hear of drugs companies being allowed to increase the price of Drugs by 500% even when the development protection period has run out.
    We hear of contract staff being paid thousands of pounds for a single shift,
    We hear of expensive equipment not being used or not being available to be used for 24 hours a day.
    We hear of simple patient care/management failing on wards.

    With such a huge organisation you have to accept you are bound to get problems from time-time, but the system just does not seem efficient at its core.

    They cannot even seem to be able to charge (and get paid) non Uk citizens for their treatment, such a simple act to enforce.

  18. Andy
    August 18, 2016

    If only the Tories would privatise the NHS. It is a total disaster and breaking it up is the only solution.

    1. Kev
      August 18, 2016

      National rail was privatised too, but I don’t see any real improvement anywhere with the exception of ticket fares!

      1. rose
        August 19, 2016

        Nicolas Ridley advised Mrs T against rail privatisation. Then when John Major did it the EU fouled it up, insisting on separation of the track etc. But the boot-faced attitude of the old nationalised railway has gone.

  19. MPC
    August 18, 2016

    I agree with your final paragraph but to say ‘Labour introduced wide ranging PFI contracts’ does seem a bit disingenuous as PFI took off in the 1990s under the Major Government. Indeed, when I was working in the public sector during that period there was much Government pressure to broaden PFI procurement of assets and services into other parts of the public sector!

  20. Mockbeggar
    August 18, 2016

    Off topic, but I received an email today from Post Office Savings saying that as the BoE had reduced bank rate by 0.25%, they would be reducing my savings account from 0.65 % to 0.25% . How did they work that out?
    Fortunately I only have £10 in the account as I moved my ‘rainy day’ money to a better one months ago.

    1. alan jutson
      August 18, 2016

      Mock beggar

      The letters are pouring out of all of the financial institutions now outlining big reductions in SAVERS interest.

      All they are really doing is increasing their margins once again.

      Quite disgraceful really, but expected.

      Mr Carney’s promise of a few days ago a complete waste of words.

    2. Qubus
      August 18, 2016

      By the same token, why has Santander 123 reduced its interest from 3 to 1.5%?

      1. ian wragg
        August 19, 2016

        Because they can get money from the government at 0.25% interest.
        Savers shafted again by carney and so called Tory government.

  21. Richard1
    August 18, 2016

    Owen Smith is a ridiculous choice as ‘alternative’ to the ludicrous Jeremy Corbyn. What are the sensible, moderate Labour MPs thinking and doing?! Smith appears to be as left wing as Corbyn whilst claiming for some reason to be more electable. Why he thinks this is a mystery as people can see what a disaster socialism is, either by looking at countries such as Venezuala today or by recalling the UK in the 1970s. The level of scrutiny of Mr Smith’s drivel is pathetic, he is not being challenged at all on this and other silly quasi-Marxist ideas.

    The moderate Labour MPs need to leave and set up anew – maybe reverse into the LibDems. they would immediately become the official opposition. the terrorist supporting neo-communist rump can then return to the backbench irrelevance they deserve.

  22. Mitchel
    August 18, 2016

    After his comments about sitting down and talking with the Islamic State yesterday,I should think whatever shred of a chance he had of winning has now vanished.

  23. English Pensioner
    August 18, 2016

    My wife required a scan and our GP said that she would make arrangements. When my wife had the previous one, there was a three month wait so she put it out of her mind.
    Much to her surprise, the next day she received a phone call from a “NHS Diagnostic Centre” asking when she could attend. So she said ‘tomorrow’. Even more to her surprise, she would asked whether 11:00 would be suitable, she agreed that it would and was told to come a few minutes before then to check the paperwork. She was given the location of the centre which turned out to be on a small light industrial estate there was free parking. She was seen spot on 11:00 as arranged and the results were e-mailed to our GP a few days later.
    This was a privately run diagnostic centre, if that is privatisation, I’m all for it. It was free at the point of use, which as far as I am concerned is the important matter

    1. Andy
      August 18, 2016

      Exactly ! That is what silly Lefties don’t get. If it is ‘free at the point of use’ it doesn’t matter if it is a privately owned operation or not. After all many hospitals were privately owned (usually by Charitable Trusts) who had their assets stolen when the NHS was set up. We need far, far more private enterprise within the NHS, not less.

  24. Bert Young
    August 18, 2016

    The NHS is a huge organisation and in need of drastic overhaul . Labour can claim what it wants ; the facts are : the costs are enormous , the skills are undeniable , regional differences are considerable , technology has changed its communications and patient control , morale is low , the planning and supply of the necessary skills show considerable weakness and the guidance from the centre lacks credibility .

    I see no other solution other than a regional breakdown . We all want the best and most immediate medical capability in our neighbourhoods and signs that what we pay for is under control and effective ; this is certainly not the case at the moment . It will take
    more than Political nudging for the changes necessary to occur .

    John s right to focus on the NHS and to stir things up ; it is a matter as big as Brexit .

  25. graham1946
    August 18, 2016

    Lots of Trusts are in financial trouble, due mainly to the dreadful PFI con.

    The government is quite happy to print and borrow money to buy out its own debt and support the banks and the stock market bubble as you mentioned the other day. Why can’t it then instead, borrow the money required to buy the NHS out of these contracts or if not, put them on the government’s books and let ministers take the can for their ineptitude in agreeing these things, instead of passing it off to the NHS? We needed new hospitals, not new ways of enriching the City at tax payers expense. ‘We don’t have the money’ is the usual risible political cry. The government can always come up with any amount of money if it wishes as was proved in 2008/9, and all the QE since, which dwarfs the NHS debts, so that is not a relevant excuse. The NHS would then have all its money for its core purpose, rather than filling up the bank accounts of city financiers.

    Hinckley is another in the same mould – useless politicians agreeing to ruinous schemes for the benefit of foreign governments and investors whilst parking the cost on the people they are supposed to be working for.

  26. sm
    August 18, 2016

    It is high time more Tory MPs asserted these points publicly. It cannot be said too often: GPs, dentists and pharmacists are private suppliers, and indeed eye tests paid for by the State are delivered by private contractors – opticians.

    Far too few voters truly understand how the NHS (barely) functions, and therefore get taken in by Smith’s kind of idealogical garbage.

    1. Andy
      August 18, 2016

      Totally agree. People forget that many Hospitals were built by Private Charities and, unless I am mistaken, had their assets (the buildings etc) nationalised without compensation by the State. There is no reason why the private sector should not have a huge role in the supply of health care.

  27. turboterrier
    August 18, 2016

    The NHS is and always will be a minefield for the governing party. No matter how much money you throw at it, will never be enough.

    Putting out some of the transport facilities and other departments to private companies does nothing to say anything different as it is perceived to be full privatisation by every increasing little steps.

    My specialist this week complaining of the shortage of doctors here in dictatorship Scotland and those do do sign up soon move on to greener pastures.

    When you see the size of the director boards in the entrance lobby are they all really necessary? Too much money is being wasted on all the wrong things. For example, making the grounds of every hospital smoke free with billboard posters and notices. The time and money involved in printing and erecting them gave somebody some work but does it impact on patient health? Not if the number of patients and visitors puffing away with both real and electronic cigerettes around the entrances is anything to go by.

    The SNP are reducing pre examination services and the drugs deaths are going up to nearly two a day and the police are cutting back on investigating the dealers!! You cannot make this up.

    Is it not time to totally rethink the way we organise our health services, and start by getting the staff on side not the heads of the unions and directors but the thousands who day in and day out turn up to try and keep the wheels turning?

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, well it is so do it before it totally collapses.

  28. rk
    August 18, 2016

    To be fair to Mr. Smith he answered many if not all of your questions in Manchester 3 days ago.

    Here are some relevant quotes:

    “It’s physically impossible for the NHS to make medicines and trial medicines around the world… therefore we will always rely on external forces and companies to make medicines”

    “The last Labour government did use private providers for hip operations and cataracts… I think that was a worthwhile thing…. [because waiting lists were very high]”

    “We want the NHS to be publicly owned, publicly delivered,… [but] there will always be some instances as I said medicines are effectively produced in the private sector…”

    1. Edward2
      August 19, 2016

      So upon analysis there is no basis for Owen nor Jeremy to keep repeating the lie that there is a secret plot by the Conservatives to radically privatise the NHS

    August 18, 2016

    Jeremy Corbyn hopefully has time to head the Labour Party back to a Socialist perspective. I say hopefully because our electorate and all of us deserve choice.

    When the debate on foreign policy amounts to the Tory Party saying bomb Syria, the LibDems saying it would be fairer to have more smaller bombs than just a few big bombs and the Labour Party MPs hoping none of their voters are listening and then voting to (bomb various countries ed) if it helps remove Mr Corbyn then, the Labour Party is in trouble.

    TV journalists have more trouble than enough finding any question at all which may show the Labour Party as being in Opposition. They default to asking questions on the NHS as Labour is pretty skilled at lying about its own record.

    Again hopefully, for the sake of our Parliamentary democracy, Mr Corbyn will sculpt his Labour Party back to its former pretty face.
    JR, I know you are opposed to nationalisation. Your books point this out. But it really would not do if all parties in Parliament were clones one of another. There are pragmatic issues. Some voters actually liked nationalisation. At some periods, in a nation’s history nationalisation is the lesser of two evils. It can be used to remove freemarket “experts” for example who have a particular expertise in attempting to advise our people to betray their country and Remain in the EU. One really cannot have captains of industry dragging our flag in the mud.

  30. rk
    August 18, 2016

    Is it scaremongering to suggest that the Conservatives would like to ‘privatize’ the NHS?

    Well Nick Herbert MP suggested that individual national savings accounts as in Singapore be used to fund the NHS instead of general taxation (Why vote Conservative 2015).

    Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Greg Clark called for (2005):

    “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision,
    in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain, so
    extending to all the choices currently available only to the minority
    who opt for private provision.”

    What privatization of the NHS means differs between people. But it doesn’t seem unfair to say that the Conservatives want the NHS to compete with private providers and are ‘relaxed’ shall we say about the increasing % of NHS services delivered by the private sector.

  31. JoolsB
    August 18, 2016

    The most pertinent question of all would be to ask Mr. Smith, who has a Welsh seat, what gives him the right to have anything to do with the NHS in England, which is all your are talking about John although of course fail to say, when he and his constituents would not be affected by any policies he introduced.

    As he has no say on health matters for his own constituents, health being devolved, do you think it is right that as potential Labour leader or even PM, that he would have 100% say on these matters for England and no say whatsoever for devoved matters for his own consituents? If you or any of your colleagues think is unfair to England, when is anyone going to stick their heads above the parapet and demand what right Owen Smith or any other MP with a non-English seat has to interfere in the English NHS?

  32. ian
    August 18, 2016

    I think you will fined that PFI was started by the con party to borrowing off the book, that means it not in the budget as debt, labour came in and went mad with it, as it off the books you do not get to hear about it much, they say it between 300 billion and 350 billion with interest rates, so before PFI the parliament would borrow the money at the interest of the day at round 6% in 90s and put the debt in the budget book of been a round about 85 billion added to the budget book debt plus the interest and nothing for the hospital or school to pay out but with PFI you are now over 300 billion in debt with high interest rates of over 15 to 25% on that debt with parliament at the moment being able to borrow money at 0.6%,

    The interest part comes from the hospitals and school, out of their budgets they get from the parliament and can take up a large part of their budgets where as before they did not have to pay interest payment and all the money went to hospital or school, looking at this it is about time the parliament closed these PFI contracts down and borrow the money they own at 0.6% so the hospitals and school can have their full budget to spend on there needs and the parliament put the debt onto the budget book and save billion and billion in hospitals and school paying out interest payments out on their budgets for care and schooling.

    If you had the right MPs in parliament it would be a done job with a vote in parliament and billions of pounds would be saved and the schools and hospitals would have the money to do the job.

    Reply When I was Sec of State in Wales they proposed PFI financed expansion and I counteredt that gilt financed expansion would likely be cheaper.

  33. margaret Robinson
    August 18, 2016

    Sorry to go off topic John but I dont know if you have seen this. It is relevant to some information circulating that the EU will be demanding that the UK contributes to EU pensions even after we leave. If we are forced to stay and enter into full monetary, fiscal, and political union, although our pensions also have a huge hole in the governments’s ability to finance, we would surely be much worse off. I have a couple of very wealthy friends solid remainers who refuse to discuss the EU as do my younger grandchildren. I dont know any reasonably comfortable working class people with whom It would be possible to enter discussions with. This causes me great frustration because it is so far beyond my comprehension why anyone outside the elite would want to remain in the EU. Finally John I congratulate my fellow brexiteer in not rising to the intimidation of remainers but in all we have kept a dignified silence. However to counteract their endeavours to overthrow the result I think we need a “Think Tank” consisting of a selection of MP like yourself, lawyers, economists, Steve Hilton, and anyone you think may be appropriate. Please Please advise. Thank you

    Reply The pensions are an EU liability they incurred so they have to honour their contracts. I expect we will surrender our right to a share of the assets of the EU – the properties etc – in turn.

    August 18, 2016

    The bizarre conduct of the 171 PLP MPs of the Labour Party is as annoying as the left panel of a Google map. These MPs are not as they would describe as “What’s Written on the Tin”. The Labour Party will never be elected to power whilst they remain.. They are incongruent. They will however go on speaking in tearful tones about the NHS. Something they themselves would never have voted for.

  35. ian
    August 18, 2016

    It look like the pressure is building the EU for the UK leave the EU ASAP, that the way to do it, get kicked out, they know waiting for the UK parliament and minster with civil servants to make a move can be slow.

  36. JamesG
    August 18, 2016

    A bit like introducing tuition fees then hypocritically accusing the the libdems of breaking a promise to remove them again despite libdems never actually being in a position to do so.

    1. ian
      August 18, 2016

      Totally agree Tuition fees were a lab policy, which should have been opposed at the time, but SU were too busy worrying about their political careers. Con’s were then able to inflict more damage using the tools labour gave them.

      However don’t let lib’s off the hook. The party may have promise to remove fees, but the individual candidates all “pledged to vote against them”, which they DID have the chance to do, then went back on their personal promises to the people that voted for them.

    2. Know-dice
      August 19, 2016

      True, but then Cable (& Clegg) made the case for £9000 and voted for it, rather than abstain.

  37. ian
    August 18, 2016

    You could do special bond issue for hospitals and schools of 250 billion paying 2.75 interest to bail out the schools and hospitals, open to pension funds and the public, instead of paying 15 to 25%.

  38. Roy Grainger
    August 18, 2016

    I’d rather the NHS were privatised but free at the point of delivery. Given the choice would you rather be admitted to a private hospital or an NHS hospital ?

    1. fedupsoutherner
      August 18, 2016


      Given the choice would you rather be admitted to a private hospital or an NHS hospital ?

      Well in my case, an NHS hospital. I went to a (named private ed)hospital for my hysterectomy and nearly died because they couldn’t control my blood pressure while under anaesthetic. They were frantically trying to bring it down and had no cardiologist to consult as it was the evening. They eventually managed to track down an NHS specialist who was off duty and were told what to do to manage it. I cannot believe they were so incompetent and if I had gone into an NHS hospital a cardiologist would have been on duty because of A&E. Private isn’t always the best option. Let’s remember it is often an NHS hospital that picks up the tab when private treatment fails.

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    August 18, 2016

    Tell Mr Smith that if he wants to increase the amount of resources available to health care services in the UK, the private sector will have to be involved. If Mr Smith wants additional resources allocated to a free-at-the-point-of-use NHS, he will have to raise income tax – not taxes on the rich only, but the standard rate of income tax.

    Both major parties are closing their eyes to the potential catastrophe presented by the aging population. The essential thing is that the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Health must together determine what the NHS spending limit is, and what drugs and treatments are affordable within that budget.

    We cannot tolerate a situation where the medical profession and the judiciary, responding to a subset of public opinion and mindful of the ‘need’ to create more work for themselves, attempt to circumvent the politicians’ authority.

  40. Gordon Hetherington
    August 18, 2016

    Owen Smith speaks 0f excluding private sector providers from the NHS. Is it true that GPs are self-employed, private-sector businesses that contract to provide healthcare services to the NHS? Will Smith turn all of those Doctors, Nurses etc into NHS employees; will he nationalise their premises and equipment; at what cost?

    1. Margaret
      August 19, 2016

      It would be better to let the NHS pay for all NHS workers then highly qualified staff would not be treated like lowly newly qualified’s by those ‘in the business.’ It is a matter of like it or lump it. The patient services are OK . One commenter says that his wife was referred o quickly go a scan . I refer many patients whose scan is quickly done , referrals where urgent matters are attended to quickly . The problem is many of these referrals are triaged and it is a matter of making a good paper case to get the patients through . This should not happen . The professionals decision should be final.
      Also there is a problem with taking skills off practitioners to re deploy them to specialists ( not more qualified) and where CCG’s have made blanket decisions that past procedures cannot be done at practices, thereby delaying the patient and putting the patient at risk .

      1. Margaret
        August 19, 2016

        Some would like to turn the NHS into an old fashioned Mill worker type of organisation. I would like to remind them that the NHS was brought into being to help humanity , not to treat people with contempt whilst the few got the brass.
        Many of us qualified for a vocation and got slave trade abuse. The whole organisation has been ruined by those wishing to take money out of it.

  41. John
    August 18, 2016

    “Labour in office has introduced prescription charges and charges for dentistry and glasses, which Conservatives have kept.” But only for the English health service. Why won’t the Conservatives admit to this and stop muddying the waters? What happened to EVEL or was this dumped with Cameron too?

    1. JoolsB
      August 18, 2016

      Exactly, the Tories ignore England every bit as much as Labour despite owing their very existence to it.
      I have made similar comments but they have not been shown. I like to think it’s coincidence John but I notice lately that despite submitting my comments early mornings, they are never shown until at least the next day.

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