The ‘crisis’ of the NHS: What you need to know
In February, Labour MP Jon Trickett called for a national national health service “to be put back in the hands of the people and put in charge of the country”.
This week, in a debate at the House of Commons, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Chris Bryant, called for an NHS to be “repatriated to the public sector”.
He called for the NHS to “be in charge” of everything, from healthcare to education to the criminal justice system, in return for “giving a big fat £2bn in free cash”.
Bryant also argued that “we should take the UK into the 21st century, we should put the NHS back into public ownership, we are a private company and we should be the people’s health provider”.
“The NHS has been put in a bad place for too long,” he said.
Byrne has argued that the UK should move towards a “national health service” that “represents the needs of the whole nation”, not just those in particular regions.
This week, he also accused the Liberal Democrats of being “the party of privatisation” and “a party that has moved towards a national health system”.
In other words, the NHS is currently being run as a private business, but it’s being managed by the government in a manner that the public have no control over.
In January, Tory MP Richard Harrington said the NHS should be “owned by the people” and the private sector should “take charge of everything”.
As the Conservatives prepare to launch their next manifesto, they will be able to point to their record on the NHS, arguing that the NHS “has always been public sector and is now private sector”.
In an attempt to reassure people about this shift in the system, they claim that “the NHS has always been the biggest employer in the country”, but have since admitted that “numbers have grown dramatically”.
While the Conservatives’ position is a clear attack on the public service, they’re also under pressure from the public.
While public service recruitment and funding are being cut, private sector workers are being paid lower salaries and are being forced to work longer hours in an effort to compete with public sector workers.
Labour’s own party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has also called for “a national NHS for everyone”, while some MPs have criticised the government’s plans to introduce a £10 a week minimum wage.
But while the Conservatives may have been trying to shift public opinion towards their position, Labour has a better chance of winning the next election than any other party.
Since May, the Conservatives have lost support across the country, including in London.
Meanwhile, Labour is on course to win the majority of seats in the House, and in the upcoming general election, the party will be aiming to make gains.
However, despite the Conservatives losing seats in their own constituency, Labour could win more than half of them.
“If the Conservatives can’t win the election, and the Tories can’t be trusted to do the right thing, the Tories will have lost their majority,” said Labour MP Tom Watson, who is also the shadow minister for health.
As a result, Watson has written to the prime minister to ask if the Tories would be willing to work with Labour on their manifesto, while also pointing out that “there’s a lot of work to be done” to help the NHS.
The Independent’s Politics Editor Ben Goggin is on Twitter: @BenGoggin