Healey: “Cameron is a PR man looking for a PR answer”

Shadow health secretary John Healey criticised the prime minister today over the government's response to its own NHS plans, reports Left Foot Forward's Shamik Das.

Shadow health secretary John Healey criticised the prime minister today over the government’s response to its own NHS plans. It follows the tabling of an Opposition motion yesterday calling on Mr Cameron to recommit the Health and Social Care Bill to a Public Bill Committee, were the “listening exercise” and public consultations to bring about major changes to the ill thought out bill.

In a speech to the Royal Society of Medicine this morning, Mr Healey said:

“David Cameron is a PR man looking for a PR answer. He must accept the problem is not the presentation of his NHS plans but the full-blown free-market ideology behind them. This Tory ideology is totally at odds with the ethos of the NHS and the essential way it works…

“The test for the prime minister now is whether he makes the changes required to honour the promises he made to protect the NHS and guarantee patients that they will see health care get better not worse, and whether he makes the changes required to safeguard the NHS and prepare it to meet the challenges of the future…

“The risk is that the prime minister decides on a political fix to deal with divisions in his government not the dangers to our NHS… Whatever the prime minister decides to do with his NHS plans, this first year has raised serious questions about his judgement, competence, values and integrity.”

Earlier, when tabling the motion, he said:

“David Cameron has promised significant and substantial changes to his NHS plans. If he’s true to his word, he must also agree to full and proper scrutiny of the amended Bill by sending it back to Committee.”

Yesterday, Left Foot Forward reported concerns the health bill’s competition clauses were “tantamount to privatisation”, following Nick Clegg’s failure at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions on Tuesday to say he would block part III of the health bill; we also reported how Mr Lansley was failing to listen to voters’ views on the bill, with 390,000 people having signed 38 Degrees’ “Save the NHS” petition.

As 38 Degrees’ executive director David Babbs put it:

“For a Secretary of State currently presiding over a high-profile listening exercise, Andrew Lansley has yet to convince many of us that listening is really something he’s interested in.

“38 Degrees members hope these adverts – [challenging Mr Lansley to start listening properly, to be run in major newspapers] – make more people aware of how they can work together to make their voices heard, and turn up the pressure on the Secretary of State to start genuinely listening, rather than just pretending he is.”

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