Candidates in May’s Town Hall elections are today being called upon to pledge to block any attempt to impose £1billion-worth of cuts to the NHS in south London.
The Croydon Assembly is meeting today at Ruskin House to discuss cuts to Croydon’s schools. But after an introductory message via video from shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the Croydon Assembly will launch its 2018 local elections manifesto, with a wide range of policy ideas and positions.
Policies on the health service represent a significant section.
“Croydon Council is an important partner in the SW London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and has powers to endorse or reject the £1billion local cuts planned to services,” the Assembly manifesto states.
Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, or STPs, are a Hunt-ish scheme to reduce provision under the NHS principle of “free at the point of delivery” and hand over more elements of the health service to the private sector. In south London, that could see two out of five hospitals, including St Helier, under threat of closure.
The Assembly’s manifesto states: “Funding of Croydon’s health services have been cut by government despite the borough’s rising population and increased health problems, which are partly linked to the growing social inequalities in the borough, especially the north.”
With the robust backing of the Croydon Trades Union Council, the Assembly lays out several points of principle which it believes that local election candidates should endorse. These include:
- Oppose any Sustainability and Transformation Partnership proposals to reduce services, treatments, prescriptions for certain drugs and special foods, GP Surgeries and whole departments
- Oppose the closure of any major acute hospitals in the South West London area, including St Helier and Epsom, as such closures will put unacceptable strains on the other hospitals, especially Croydon University
- Campaign to ensure that Croydon NHS receives the level of funding that reflects its growing population and their health needs
- Oppose any new proposals to transfer health services to private companies
- Support bringing back existing privatised services into the
- NHS Support the creation of a publicly owned pharmaceutical manufacturing corporation to supply a range of generic medicines and work with universities to research new drug treatments
- Back demands for an increase in bed provision to meet the needs of the growing population in Croydon and the South West NHS area as opposed to the cuts outlined in the STP
- Support the full renationalisation of all NHS services, property and land, and the cancellation of any Private Finance Initiative (PFI) or Public Private Partnership (PPP) or PF2-related debt affecting Croydon NHS
- Campaign for an expansion in primary care services such as general practitioners, dentists, district nurses and occupational physiotherapists
- Support the scrapping of all fees and prescription charges Endorse the bringing back into NHS employment, with NHS pay and terms and conditions, all medical, clinical, admin and clerical and ancillary staff, currently employed by private contractors.
The Croydon Assembly manifesto also addresses the related issue of adult social care. “Every day, many older people in Croydon go without the care and support they deserve and need. The number of people getting state help with the costs of their care has fallen by more than a quarter since 2011.”
There has been a £160million cut in total public spending on older people’s social care since 2013, despite a rapidly increasing demand from an ageing population. “Croydon Council candidates should campaign for a Future Care Guarantee that is supported by all parties. This would include a new funding formula and national entitlements to health and adult social care services free at the point of use, funded by the state.”
It will be instructive to see how much of the Croydon Assembly’s genuinely radical agenda makes it into the manifestos of the political parties campaigning ahead of the local elections on May 3. Or, indeed, how many of those selected to represent Blairite Tony Newman’s Labour group attend today’s event and embrace the policies advocated there.
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