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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?
I think the NHS is in much better shape than people give it credit for. If you ask people about whether they were treated well on their last visit to a hospital, about four in five say they were. But if you ask them about whether the NHS is providing a good service nationally, just half say it is. We need to encourage people to trust their own experiences more.
But, the NHS is facing some difficult issues at the moment and we also need to listen to, and give more say to, front line staff. That’s often where the best ideas come from and we should not hand down reform from on high.
Finally, we have to keep sight of why public services matter. Why are we passionate about public services? Because they help us fight inequality. They give us the same treatment and opportunities, whether we are old or young, rich or poor, or black or white. This is about our common humanity and that’s what we should be defending.
2. Why do you think health reforms have produced such a strong reaction from NHS staff?
Change is always difficult, and there have been some problems. I also think staff would like to be listened to more. But I also think that the vast majority of NHS staff recognise the extra investment that Labour has put in. It is no coincidence that there are 85,000 more nurses, 32,000 more doctors and much shorter waiting times than a decade ago, it is the result of changing the way the NHS works to give patients a better service.
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?
What matters most is protecting the foundation of the NHS – treatment free at the point of use – and doing what is best for people who are sick. If that means GP surgeries open at the weekends, more doctors doing operations so people don’t wait so long in pain, and more satellite provision (like the dialysis unit in Beeston in my constituency) then that’s what we should be doing.
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?
We should continue with reforms that work and improve things for people who are sick.
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?
I am opposed. Treatment must remain free at the point of use.
6. Does the public really value choice in the NHS?
What people want most of all is a good service and speedy treatment, free at the point of use, that they can rely on when they are sick. But they also want to know that they are treated with respect and asked about the treatment they receive. I think choice is an important part of both these aspirations.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns