One of Labour’s manifesto pledges was to ‘halt and review Sustainability and Transformation plans.’
Speaking to the Health Service Journal (£), Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, clarified this pledge. He said the review would be done by a new body, NHS Excellence, which would have patients and carers on its board and would be “definitely finished by the end of the year”.
He added: “It won’t stop change happening, we are not against change, but it will listen properly to clinicians and the public. If I may say so, and I mean this in the gentlest of terms to the NHS world, what has struck me since I got this job is the extent to which there is a feeling that if you involve the public you will just have another Kidderminster Hospital all over the place, as if the public cannot come to a sophisticated decision about the provision of health services in their area.
“I think you can trust the public a bit more. We have got nothing to fear by having proper discussions.”
In the interview he also gave his support for NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, as well as admitting that Labour’s waiting list pledge uncosted (£).
Labour pledged to take 1 million people off NHS waiting lists by 2022, and Mr Ashworth says he is confident that this and other pledges can be delivered, “within the extra £37 billion,” identified in the party’s spending plans.
While he accepted the extra £37 billion over five years did not match the historic increase the NHS has received of 4% a year he also stated Labour, “will set up the NHS Office of Sustainability, modelled on the Office of Budget Responsibility, to make recommendations to government,” believing this will provide transparency about what the NHS needs in the future.