11. HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

11. HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

 Labour intends to bring the NHS back into public control and make it a fully public sector organisation. It intends to bring spending up to at least average OECD levels. We also intend to establish a National Care Service.

Labour would allow the Mitie cleaning contract at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, to expire in 2021, and will then bring the service back in-house, with workers earning the same wages as their other NHS colleagues. Meanwhile Labour supports Mitie workers in their continuing struggle for fair pay.

In line with national Labour Party policy, we would also allow the Q-Park hospital car parking contract to expire in 2022 before bringing the management of the car park back in-house, and allowing free parking for patients, in line with national Labour Party policy as outlined in the 2017 general election manifesto.

Labour believes the failure of Cornwall Council to defend community hospitals at Saltash, Fowey and St Ives – allowing their “temporary” closure for more than two years, with no voice of opposition – has been a disgraceful dereliction of duty. It should be fundamental that no service is ever withdrawn until after an alternative is in place, and has been demonstrated to be adequate.

In particular, the loss of Minor Injury Units at Saltash, and Fowey, and overnight at Bude, has caused real hardship. Simply telling people in rural areas that they must travel further for treatment is no solution to NHS under-funding. The loss of community NHS beds is a contributory factor in the delayed transfer of patients from the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro.

Labour will therefore insist that those community facilities remain open until adequate alternative provision is established.

Cornwall Council’s Health & Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee is clearly not fit for purpose, is completely ineffective, and should be abolished. Healthwatch Cornwall, created by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat 2012 Health & Social Care Act, is also ineffective and should be scrapped.

Both Cornwall Council and Healthwatch Cornwall have been complicit in the development of plans to replace the NHS in Cornwall with an Accountable Care Organisation – currently known as an Integrated Care Partnership. In the best traditions of Orwellian double-speak, the structure of an Integrated Care Partnership actually means the opposite of what it implies. It would actually result in more bureaucracy, more fragmentation and further erosion of the NHS core principles.

Labour believes the so-called Integrated Care Partnership is a stalking horse for lower standards, increased privatisation and increased rationing of healthcare. Labour in Cornwall would halt and reverse the current strategy. We say that standards of healthcare should be the same throughout England, and the current proposals to let County Hall set its own standards must be scrapped.

The UK has the lowest level of physicians per population of any OECD country. We estimate that the Cornwall establishment level is 20% below the national average. On current plans Cornwall residents will rarely see a GP.

Labour will also ensure that children’s services, health visiting and district nursing all remain universally free at the point of deliver and are never subject to means-testing

Many of our facilities are outdated and fit for purpose. Priorities for capital investment could include the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, and Falmouth Hospital.

That is why, at the local level, we are keen to re-establish real public control and involvement in the local delivery of quality health and social care.

One way of doing this would be to re-introduce elected Community Health Councils, to act as effective watchdogs and whistle-blowers, while allowing a professional, clinically-led National Health Organisation to maintain uniform standards of high-quality care across the country.