Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Mr Blair: All talk on Health

According to this week’s NHS Workforce Survey, almost £1.5 billion was spent last year on extra managers and bureaucrats brought in to support Labour’s micromanagement of the NHS (The Times, 28 March 2005). That would be enough to fund an extra 52,000 nurses.
The Survey shows that the total increase in managers and senior managers between 1997 and 2004 was 15,554. It also shows that the number of staff in central functions increased by 29,183 between 1997 and 2004.
Why Labour are all talk
Mr Blair promised ‘not just to save the NHS but make it better’ (Party Conf Speech, 97). All talk.
• Over one million people in the UK are still waiting for treatment on the NHS (House of Commons Library, 04).
• More people wait for longer on average to be treated in dirty hospitals under Mr Blair. This is because the average wait for hospital treatment has gone up – from 90 days in 1999-2000 to 95 days in 2003-4 (Hospital Episode Statistics, 7 Dec 04).
• The number of people being killed by the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA has more than doubled since 1997 (National Statistics, Health Statistics Quarterly, Spring 04, p.16) despite Labour’s 23 ‘initiatives’ to tackle the problem. 5,000 people a year die from hospital-acquired infections, such as MRSA (Source: National Audit Office, ImprovingPatient Care by Reducing the Risk of Hospital Acquired Infection: A Progress Report, HC 876, 14 Jul 04, p.24). That is more than the number killed on Britain’s roads.
Meanwhile, taxpayers’ money is not going to the frontline:
• The number of managers in the NHS is increasing three times as fast as the number of doctors and nurses (Department of Health, NHS Workforce Statistics, 22 Mar 05).
• The NHS Plan, published in July 2000, contained over 200 targets, plus a whole host of ‘aims’ and ‘aspirations’.
• Under Labour, spending on the NHS in England alone has risen by £29.1 billion (Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 04, Cm. 6201, April 04) or £1,400 per household. But productivity has fallen by nearly one per cent per year since 97 (National Statistics, Major step towards measuring health service productivity, 18 Oct 04). If the private sector was run like the NHS, the economy would have been in recession for the past seven years.
• Between 1999-2000 and 2002-3 spending on hospitals increased by nearly 30 per cent, whilst output increased by just under 5 per cent (House of Commons Library, January 2005 and Hospital Episode Statistics, 7 Dec 04).
Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrat plans for the NHS don’t add up. They want to spend billions more, but they haven’t said where the money would come from. They also haven’t said how they pay off Labour’s borrowing. That’s why taxes would have to go up under the Lib Dems – and why their spokesperson Andrew George MP has said: ‘trust us we’ll put your taxes up’ (Simon Mayo Show, Radio Five Live, 19 Jan 05).
Conservative Action
Conservatives will act to clean up our hospitals. We believe local hospitals should meet required standards of cleanliness, and should be made accountable to patients by more information about the level of infections. Doctors and nurses need help to tackle infection. We will cut waiting lists by:
• We will reform and invest by increasing the NHS budget by £34 billion within five years of taking office – from £1,450 per head to £2,000 a head. Spending will go directly to the front line.
• We will scrap all of Mr Blair's politically inspired targets on the NHS which distort clinical priorities and have lead to the proliferation of hospital 'superbugs' such as MRSA.
• We will put matron in charge of making sure wards are clean. There will be a matron in each hospital and a senior nurse for each ward. The nominated person will have both the responsibility, resources and the power to control all aspects of cleanliness and infection control on their ward.

People have a clear choice: cleaner hospitals and shorter waiting lists with the Conservatives or dirty hospitals and long waiting lists under Mr Blair and the Lib Dems.

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