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27th September 2013

Labour and Wiser?

The speech by Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, speaking to the Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton, was very telling.  In a relatively short speech, he mentioned one category of the population as described by `older people`, `our mums and dads`, `our own parents` and `people aged 90 over` a total of fourteen times.  I would guess he is working on the fact that 22% of the UK population, that is 14.5 million people, are aged 60 and above.  They are all voters!

He also continued an emphasis on the joining up of health and social care , as in his assertion “This Conference can complete Bevan’s vision.  Unite the NHS with social care.  Just imagine.  One service looking after the whole person - physical, mental and social”.

There is an intention in Labour Health and Social Care policy to bring together all services involved in `personal care` under one umbrella.  The stated aims being to bring more care into the community and free up hospital space.  Almost his last words were – “This is what becomes possible in a one nation health and care service.  People with more rights over where and how care is delivered” .  As with all politicians, there is a wonder over what the agenda really is and I know that we have heard it all before.   I was also a little perturbed that he cited `lazy GPs` as one of the problems in the NHS!

He confirmed some of the intentions of labour policy to GP Online in an interview by saying “that under his plans for integrated health and social care, GPs would focus more on preventive and social care”.  In this interview, he continued to expand on the subject, suggesting that GPs would work very differently under a Labour Government.  Particularly, general practice budgets should be expanded to allow social prescribing.  He wanted GPs to  work more in a social context. “ I spent some time shadowing GPs over the last few months and sat through their surgeries, and the main conclusion I have is they are very similar to my surgeries as an MP. A lot of people who come through the door have no physical health problems; it’s often clear to me their problem is a social problem - it’s bereavement related, it’s work-related, it’s housing-related.”

In his speech, he asked “A Labour answer worth voting for?”  Well, is it?

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John Shapter

Dental Specialist

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