Hazel Blears

Red Pepper / Keep Our NHS Public survey of Labour deputy leadership candidates views on the NHS

June 16, 2007
3 min read

1. The government has put massive investment into the NHS, yet polls suggest the Tories are now more trusted to run it. What would be the first three steps that you would like to see to improve the NHS?

  • Hit the 18-week waiting time target, to prove the reforms have worked.
  • Rebuild the trust of the NHS staff, so the 1.4 million workers are supporters of the Government.
  • Make 2008 a national celebration of 60 years of the NHS, with events in every school and community.

    2. Why do you think health reforms have produced such a strong reaction from NHS staff?

    All change is difficult. I think we need to work more closely with the unions and patients’ groups, and involve the public more. For example, I would want to reform PCTs so that an element of their boards are directly elected.

    3. Should extensive private sector involvement in the health service be continued or curtailed and why? Do you favour the expansion of private involvement into primary care, with companies running GP surgeries and PCT services being outsourced?

    If the independent sector or mutual sector can help to deliver better NHS services, for example by reducing waiting times for knee, hip or cataract operations, then we should have no ideological opposition to it.

    4. Aside from private sector involvement, reforms have aimed to create a quasi-market with NHS hospitals competing with each other and earning their ‘payments by results’. Has this been wise and should it continue to be the direction of travel?

    Yes, because we need more transparency in the funding and expenditure of the NHS, not least to expose the inequalities in health spending between poor and rich areas.

    5. There has been talk recently of charges for health services – Charles Clarke said the NHS should provide core services for free but demand a fee for peripheral treatments. What would your policy be on NHS charges?

    Instinctively I am against them, but I would need to see the detail before saying ‘never’.

    6. Does the public really value choice in the NHS?

    Yes. The middle classes have always had choice. They’ve played the system. The working class have put up with second-rate services from the NHS. This is what experts call the ‘inverse care law’ and as socialists we have a duty to address it. By introducing choice, we give power to patients, and that will lead to better, fairer services.


  • ✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

    Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
    On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

    Changing our attitude to Climate Change
    Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

    Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
    Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself

    Secrets and spies of Scotland Yard
    A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh

    #AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
    In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces

    How progressive is the ‘progressive alliance’?
    We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank

    The YPJ: Fighting Isis on the frontline
    Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava

    Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
    'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'

    Confronting Brexit
    Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond

    On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
    Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network

    Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
    The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter

    #AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
    In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement

    Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
    Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

    Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
    On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.

    Social Workers Without Borders
    Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

    Growing up married
    Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

    The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
    On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

    Reclaiming Holloway Homes
    The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

    Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
    Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

    Pass the domestic violence bill
    Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

    Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
    Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

    Protect our public lands
    Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

    From the frontlines
    Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

    How can we make the left sexy?
    Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

    In pictures: designing for change
    Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

    Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
    As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

    Who owns our land?
    Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

    Don’t delay – ditch coal
    Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

    Utopia: Work less play more
    A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

    Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
    Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant