The Shadow Health Secretary has indicated that Labour has no intention of rolling back the entire health and social care act should it form the next government.
Jonathan Ashworth indicated that the 2012 act would not be repealed in its entirety.
This is despite the fact that the Labour Party manifesto commits to “reversing privatisation of our NHS and returning our health service into expert public control”.
It goes on to indicate that “Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act that puts profits before patients, and make the NHS the preferred provider.”
But Ashworth stated that Labour focus would instead be on removing Section 75 regulations which encourage clinical commissioning groups to tender healthcare services more widely.
The Shadow health secretary indicated that non-healthcare services will continue unabated, regardless of the outcome of the election.
“We are still going to have opticians and pharmacists, there has always been a private element of health provision in this country,” Ashworth added.
Sir Robert Naylor’s review of NHS estates has featured heavily in the healthcare debate during the election campaign, with Labour pushing its arguably stronger credentials in this area.
The Shadow health secretary has indicated his agreement with recommendations to increase the level of capital spending in the NHS, as the Opposition continues to put pressure on the government to properly fund the health service.
But Ashworth is also unhappy with proposals that surgeries could be penalised for failing to dispose of assets.
“We outlined £10bn for capital investment based on recommendations that Naylor made. We said that should come from our big capital investment plan that we have got to invest in crumbling hospitals and IT.”
However, he said the “approach with trusts being told they are not going to get any capital investment unless they enter into selling off land and assets doesn’t seem very fair”.
Ashworth went on to suggest that it could be viable for the NHS to sell off surplus land and buildings, but this must occur in an appropriate climate.
“I am not against the NHS getting rid of surplus land and assets, what I am uncomfortable with is forcing NHS trusts to do that if that’s not in their best interests and it’s letting the government off the hook because the reason we have a maintenance backlog is because the government has allowed the budgets to be regraded to plug the gaps in hospital finances.”
Nonetheless, despite the comments of the Shadow health secretary, the Labour party is unlikely to achieve a majority in the forthcoming general election.