Domestic Issues

Lord Owen comments on the the NHS Foundation Trust deficit story

“At what stage will the stand alone Foundation Hospital advocates – who have dominated health policy  for 13 years – admit they were wrong? We have to return to comprehensive care provided across each geographical area, as spelt out in the NHS Bill.

“This Bill, now before the House of Commons in the name of Caroline Lucas is supported by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, other Labour MPs, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and John Pugh, Liberal Democrat MP. That progressive alliance in Parliament must now be supported by all the Royal Colleges and anyone committed to evidence based medicine. The evidence is now before us all: Foundation Hospitals have been a disaster. The Health and Social Care Act must be changed and the NHS Bill is the way to do it.”

“Lord Owen sets out the building blocks for a progressive alliance of firstly the NHS Bill and a cross party Constitutional Convention for a federal structure for the UK”

“The question – and it is a very real one – is can the SNP and the Labour Party in Scotland do anything other than fight each other for the next five years? On this it has been encouraging that the London based UK leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Jon Trickett an influential Shadow Cabinet member with an additional task of embracing a cross-party Constitutional Convention. The prospect of developing some mutual respect in Scotland hinges on progress over creating a Convention in one form or another.

“[Nicola Sturgeon’s] own nationalism and how she conducts herself is critical as to where the UK will end up. A UK becoming more united or a UK heading for separation.

“Pacts or deals do not involve merging of parties or the loss of their identity, but they can be the means to legislate for a constitutional accord. Such an accord might be one where the parties that want to separate agree to stay in the UK, to participate in a federal union and have proportional representation across the UK. … This is radical politics such as we have not seen for many years, but it is cross party, not one party. Inclusive, not exclusive.

“This is not hard left. Nor Trotskyist but socially responsible and capable of uniting the UK.”

Read the full text here: ReferendaCrossPartyConvention

Labour’s 2015 leadership election: Lord Owen interview on BBC Newsnight

Lord Owen discusses Labour’s 2015 leadership elections and media speculation that it could lead to an SDP-style split in an interview on BBC Newsnight. View the interview, from around 16’50” in the programme, here.

Please note, access is time-limited by the BBC, expires approx 17 August.

Lord Owen hopes cooperation over Caroline Lucas’s NHS Bill could lead to a wider progressive alliance amongst the political parties.

The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.

This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge.  It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it.  I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis.   Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy.  It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election.  This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020.  If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.

This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out.  I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament.  It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.

 

 

The coming election will decide the future of the NHS, and with it, the United Kingdom.

The end of the NHS as we have known and understood it in England will take place before 2020 if whichever party or parties that win the 2015 general election does not change the 2012 NHS legislation ….around that moment the issue of Scottish independence will be back on the political agenda with a vengeance. The two are linked in more ways than have yet been fully recognised.

The New Statesman (online), 21 April 2015. 

Read the article here: The coming election

Lord Owen warns of the lessons to be learnt from the Hinchingbrooke Hospital scandal.

Article, published in The Guardian 19 January 2015

Hinchingbrooke has been a heavy defeat for an ideological solution that can work well in manufacturing or retailing, but runs into problems in healthcare.

Advocates of a market-led, partly privatised NHS for England have been saying for years that “what matters is what works”, dismissing those who believe in the 1948 NHS concept as ideological, old-fashioned or plain wrong.

Now that their flagship, Hinchingbrooke hospital, the only privately run NHS hospital in the country, is losing its private contractor, Circle, one might have expected the zealots to acknowledge the flawed nature of their policy? Not a bit of it. The arch priest of markets everywhere, the Economist, merely records that it “is just one of dozens in financial trouble”.

To read the full article please click here: Hinchingbrooke.

The Health of the Nation: NHS in Peril

A new book by Lord Owen entitled The Health of the Nation: NHS in Peril will be published on 4 December. It details the damage done by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the reasons why the worst aspects of it must be repealed.

The six chapter headings covering the main topics are as follows:

Introduction

“The Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 is an all-party and no-party campaign* whose aim is simple:  to ensure a sufficient number of MPs are returned to Parliament in May 2015 so that whichever party or combination of parties form the government the marketisation of healthcare is removed from the Health and Social Care Act 2012 – which in essence only applies to England.  This Act was likened when it was published to tossing a hand grenade into the NHS.  The damage it has done already is hard to exaggerate, let alone quantify.  This legislation must be repealed but it will have to be done carefully in an enabling way, with no single appointed day when everything changes.”

Action Sheet p. xvii

This explains the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill:

* www.nhsbill2015.org

Chapter 1        The Hung Parliament of 2010

Chapter 2        Fatally Flawed NHS Legislation

Chapter 3        A People’s Commission

Chapter 4        NHS Marketisation – EU and US

Chapter 5        SOS: Save Our Surgeries

Chapter 6        A One-nation NHS

For more details regarding specific sections within the book please click here

To buy the e-book or paperback please go to the book section or click here

Launch of the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015

SATURDAY, 4TH OCTOBER 2014. A campaign is being launched today to reverse the failings of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and fully restore the National Health Service (NHS) in England as an accountable public service. It is encouraging voters to ask candidates in the general election to support including a Bill that would do just that in the first Queen’s Speech after the election. The campaign’s website is here: www.nhsbill2015.org

 

To read the full press release please click here