Sunday 21st September – Lobby the Labour Party Conference to Save the NHS

999 Call For The NHS and Walk for the NHS  have both called for people to put pressure on all the political parties to adopt policies that will restore the NHS to its core founding principles and stop and reverse cuts and privatisation.

This is on the principle that no political party currently has policies that will stop the NHS cuts and sell offs. At the Trafalgar Square rally at the end of the Jarrow to London People’s March, Darlo mum Jo Adams said,

“The only people we can trust with the NHS is each other.”

On Sunday 21st September at 2.30pm, people are lobbying the Labour Party Conference in Manchester to Save the NHS. All are welcome to take part.

A bunch of Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaigners are going to the lobby on the 12.28pm train from Halifax

Lobby venue

The lobby is being organised by Labour party members who have drafted a clear unambiguous resolution to reverse privatisation and rebuild the NHS.

So far the resolution on Saving the NHS is backed by 5 constituencies:

  • Hull North,
  • Broxtowe,
  • Stretford and Urmston,
  • Houghton and Sunderland South,
  • Leeds North West

One of the initiators of the Resolution says it is sponsored by Keep Our NHS Public.

The Labour Party Conference Lobby to Save the NHS aims to make sure the Resolution  gets discussed and voted on as Labour Party policy.

Andy Burnham adopts an impassioned tone for the crowd but his small print is for the private sector

The Resolution is different from what Andy Burnham, Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Health, committed a future Labour government to in his speech at the 999 Call for the NHS People’s March rally in Trafalgar Square.

999 Call for the NHS - Trafalgar Square rally, Photo: Nicola Avery, creative commons sharealike-noncommercial-attribution licence

He committed a future Labour government to three main NHS policies:

  • making the NHS the preferred provider of services
  • negotiating an NHS exemption to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
  • repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012

A couple of days before the rally, he had welcomed the Kings Fund Barker report, that calls for chronically ill patients to pay prescription charges and accommodation charges for NHS continuing care beds.

It looks as if the impassioned tone of his speech to the People’s March for the NHS is for the crowds, and the small print content is for the private sector.

Why does Labour want to keep competitive tendering that opens the NHS to privatisation?

In my opinion, Andy Burnham’s speech to the 999 Call for the NHS rally in Trafalgar Square raises more questions than it answers.

His statement that a Labour Government would make the NHS the “preferred provider” raises the question of why a Labour Government would want to preserve competitive tendering in the NHS, and the purchaser/provider split.

Dr Lucy Reynolds writes

‘Burnham’s middle-way of “preferred provider” is not the fair compromise/small backtracking away from privatisation that it looks like, it’s a full-scale betrayal.’

Why isn’t Andy Burnham supporting the proposals in the draft NHS Reinstatement Bill? And in the very similar resolution to reverse privatisation and rebuild the NHS? Why isn’t he saying this is what the Labour Party Conference will vote for?

Why does Labour want to enter the UK into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, that is totally against democracy and the public interest?

Burnham promises to successfully negotiate the exclusion of the NHS from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. But why does Labour want to take the UK into TTIP at all?

Friends of the Earth call the EU-US trade and investment treaty the “TTIP of the anti-democracy iceberg”.

TTIP has so many potentially dire effects that the only thing to do with TTIP would seem to be to dump it.

For example, TTIP  would make the promised Labour price freeze on energy bills impossible.  It would overrule environmental protection laws and regulations. It could make it impossible to increase the minumum wage or extend the living wage etc etc etc.

How would Labour negotiate an NHS exemption from TTIP?

Dr Lucy Reynolds points out that TTIP exemptions for public services are only available for 100% public services, but don’t apply to the NHS because it’s already part- privatised.

Info from a friend who’s just attended an event on TTIP, addressed by 38 Degrees and War on Want, is that the exception from privatisation is for entities of non-economic public interest (for now, things like judiciary and the armed services).

But “services of general economic interest” as defined by the Lisbon Treaty (and this includes the part-privatised NHS) would fall within TTIP – and would at the very least become a target for Investor- State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) .

ISDS is a provision in trade and investment treaties/agreements, that allows companies to bring legal proceedings against foreign governments that are party to the agreement. The  House of Commons briefing note (pdf) on ISDS and TTIP says that the proposed TTIP will contain an “effective and state-of-the-art” ISDS.

The HoC briefing note says that:

“Foreign investors can use ISDS claims to challenge measures that may have been adopted by governments in the public interest. For instance, a change to the way health services are delivered to favour provision by a state monopoly may lead foreign investors to claim that they have been treated in a discriminatory way, or that their assets have been indirectly appropriated.”

My friend who attended the 38 Degrees/War on Want event on TTIP says that the French have pushed for and apparently got an “exemption culturelle” specifically for the exemption of their moving image industries from inclusion among services of general economic interest. (As just mentioned above, these fall within TTIP and are subject to ISDS.)

So the BBC and public broadcasting apparently have an exemption from ISDS, thanks to the French government.

The NHS – presumably a service of general economic interest since it’s now part-privatised – would also need to be exempted from that category, in order to be excluded from ISDS.

But what kind of exemption would it be for the NHS, since it could be difficult to claim a “cultural exemption” for it, maybe? Although imo it is a key part of UK culture.

The only people we can trust with the NHS is each other

In my opinion, Andy Burnham’s speech to the 999 Call for the NHS rally sets alarm bells ringing about the future of the NHS under a Labour Government.

This makes it even more important to lobby the Labour Party Conference to Save the NHS on Sunday 21st September.

Here is a video of Andy Burnham’s speech to the 999 Call for the NHS rally in Trafalgar Square, from Shibley Rahman.

Posted from here.

One thought on “Sunday 21st September – Lobby the Labour Party Conference to Save the NHS

  1. Excuse the repetition but you are commenting about the NHS in England. Scotland, in 2004, removed the artificial internal market and the trusts. This was done by a lab/libdem coalition because that was what the people wanted. If they were serious this could also be done here.