Keep the NHS Public – Successful Public Labour Party Meeting attacks coalition “abolition” of NHS


On 1st April 2014 Kingston & Surbiton Labour Party held a public discussion about the NHS. There was a panel of speakers and then a great deal of group discussion amongst the audience of about 80 people assembled in the United Reformed Church. 

The panel consisted of:

Dr Onkar Sahota (speaker) was elected as the London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon in May 2012 and serves on a range of committees there. He has been a GP in west London since 1989, and also has an MBA from the London Business School. He has been a magistrate and also a school governor, and chairs the Save Our Hospitals Ealing campaign against the A&E reorganisation in west London.

 Professor Allyson Pollock (speaker) is professor of public health research at Queen Mary, University of London. She trained in medicine in Scotland and became a public health consultant in 1991. She has held senior posts in public health policy and research at University College London and the University of Edinburgh, and is the author of NHS plcand co-author of The New NHS: A Guide.

 Lee Godfrey (speaker) is the Labour parliamentary candidate for Kingston and Surbiton. He served in the Royal Navy and has worked for 17 years in the energy industry. In 2012 he was voted a Community Hero by Surrey Life for his energetic campaigns for primary schools and preserving library services in his local community.

 Julie Reay (Conference Chair) helped set up a Carer’s Group in Kingston in 1984, and was appointed to the Community Health Council (now Healthwatch) which she chaired for 6 years. She was elected to Kingston Council in 1990 and was Labour’s lead on Social Services. In 1998 she was appointed Chair of Kingston and Richmond Health Authority and remained so until Health Authorities were abolished. She has experience of recruitment, setting up voluntary sector projects and is currently a Branch Organiser for Unison.

Here is a report of the meeting

In 2013 the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government, through the Health and Social Care Act, initiated the greatest shake-up of the NHS since it was formed, costing a whopping £3bn. The changes were not heralded in any manifesto so electors did not vote for them and there was certainly no referendum on this new model of health care.

The three most important changes were:

  •  The Secretary of State for Health would no longer have the duty to provide a comprehensive health service free at the point of delivery for each person according to their need and not according to their ability to pay:
  • The NHS was to be broken up, public hospitals closed and services parcelled up and offered to the private sector: and
  • The Act gave new commissioners and providers of NHS funded care the discretion to pick and choose patients and services, and determine eligibility for NHS funded care.

Thus the NHS service is fast becoming nothing more than a funding stream and a logo.  Soon the NHS will no longer exist, unless we rally to its defence.

In the last three years, the private sector has taken £7bn of NHS business

  • In one year alone, £1.2bn was clawed back by the Treasury from the NHS, and then the coalition government says hospitals have allowed themselves to go into the red.

The NHS needs to evolve to meet our needs, and the Labour Party proposes a single service bringing together physical and mental health and social care, but in this current coalition government system parts of the NHS compete with each other. If Labour is elected in 2015 it will repeal the Act which broke up the NHS.

Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party hosted a public meeting on 1 April, attended by some 80 people, to hear Dr Onkar Sahota and doctor and now member of the Greater London Assembly, Professor Allyson Pollock, a distinguished academic in public health policy, and Lee Godfrey, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Kingston and Surbiton, to discuss these vital issues.

Dr Onkar Sahota said ‘The NHS should be a single service but is being broken up, and managing all these contracts will waste money, leaving less for patient care’.

Professor Allyson Pollock said ‘The 2013 legislation must be repealed and, crucially, the Secretary of State must again have the duty to secure and provide a comprehensive health service. It is vital that Labour reinstates the legal duty on the Secretary of State to provide universal health care. A guarantee to provide a national health service is NOT enough.’