This morning Sir David Nicholson criticised Ed Miliband for failing to commit an extra £8 billion a year towards the NHS. The former head of the NHS said that Labour needed to follow the example of the Tories and Lib Dems by signing up to the pledge.
Now, Frank Field, the Labour MP, has come out in response. However, rather than rush to Miliband’s defence, he has claimed that each main party leader, including Ed Miliband, is not being frank about NHS spending. Field says in a press statement that it will only be after the election that Labour, along with the other major parties, will be able to seriously discuss their plans for the NHS:
‘Only from May 8th will the political parties feel able to begin discussing seriously with the electorate the full extent of the financial crisis into which the NHS is already plunged. All the major contenders for power have ruled out the means to finance the growing deficit.’
He goes on to say that in order to keep the NHS afloat, a number of health reforms would be required:
‘What will appear as a reneging on such promises will require a most fundamental new package of health reforms. This reneging can be only sold by offering a totally new deal on health. Voters will have to be offered the ownership of their NHS through a new national mutual and that mutual will have to be conceded the right to raise National Insurance contributions specifically for the people-owned NHS mutual.’
A fine sentiment perhaps, but Mr S can’t help but wonder whether Field, who previously wrote a poverty report for David Cameron, chose to run his comments by the Labour leader ahead of going public?