The SNP is today posing a series of questions to Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham ahead of his daytrip to Scotland – calling on him to answer for his decision to ‘open the floodgates’ on NHS privatisation and Labour’s disastrous record on health in Wales.
– Andy Burnham previously argued for a single UK NHS – despite saying that the NHS south of the border won’t survive 5 more years of Tory government. Does Mr Burnham still hold this position and how does this fit in with Labour’s claimed commitment to devolution?
– The SNP has already committed to protecting Scotland’s NHS from the impact of the privatisation agenda south of the border by voting to reinstate the NHS in England – will Andy Burnham give the same commitment?
– During the referendum campaign, why did Labour argue that a No vote would ‘protect the NHS’ – when Mr Burnham himself offered stark warnings that the NHS would face serious pressures from the election of another Tory government.
– Is Andy Burnham aware that polling shows that the SNP is by far the most trusted party in the UK when it comes to the NHS – and that NHS satisfaction in Scotland is 45 points higher than in Labour-run Wales? When will he visit Wales to see first-hand his party’s failures in government.
– Will Mr Burnham apologise for his role in signing off on the privatisation of Hinchingbrooke hospital – opening the floodgates on NHS privatisation south of the border?
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:
“From arguing in favour of a UK-wide NHS – meaning Scotland would bear the full brunt of the privatisation and charging agenda south of the border – to his attempts to face both way on the issue during the referendum campaign, Andy Burnham has very little credibility on the NHS amongst people in Scotland.
“And it shouldn’t be forgotten that it was Andy Burnham himself as Health Secretary in the last Labour government who signed off on the privatisation of Hitchingbrook Hospital – the idea that Labour expect us to listen to the man who opened the floodgates on NHS privatisation is beyond belief. Perhaps this is why Ed Miliband is refusing to confirm whether he would make Mr Burnham his Health Secretary after the election.
“Despite Labour’s ever-more frantic attempts to claim otherwise, the SNP’s record on our health service is second to none – which is why we are by far the most trusted party on the NHS while satisfaction in Scotland’s health service is 45 points higher than in Labour run Wales.
“With his party’s appalling record in Wales – and his own record in paving the way for the current Tory privatisation and charging agenda in England – Andy Burnham would do well to try and learn lessons from the SNP rather than making cheap, political points.
“If Andy Burnham can’t use his day trip north to answer some basic questions on Labour’s record, his claims today will fall on deaf ears. As Labour’s increasingly desperate attempts to play political games with our health service continue to fail, no wonder polls show voters place their trust in the SNP to protect our public services. And as Nicola Sturgeon has made clear, a strong team of SNP MPs will use their clout to protect Scotland’s budget from Westminster’s NHS agenda of austerity, patient charging and privatisation.”
Speaking to Holyrood Magazine (26 August 2013), Andy Burnham said:
“That is why I am talking quite passionately about getting English Labour MPs back up the road and for me, sitting down with Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] and others and saying, let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Wouldn’t that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways?”
Details of polling on the NHS in Scotland can be found below: