Labour front bencher Andy Burnham swapped his role as Shadow Health Secretary to get an insight into staff working at St James’s hospital in Leeds.
Mr Burnham was launching the first of ten major regional events in support of Labour’s ‘Drop the Bill: Put the NHS first’ – its campaign against Government plans for radical changes to the health service which have prompted a storm of opposition from doctors and other hospital staff.
The Government is pushing through its Health and Social Care Bill. Labour is attempting to unite patients, NHS staff and the public in a campaign against the Bill. It has launched a nationwide petition at www.dropthebill.com which gathered 15,000 signatures in two days.
Today, the first formal day of campaigning, sees Labour’s health team work-shadowing NHS staff at St James’s without media, designed to give every Shadow Minister an insight into the true picture on the ground in the NHS.
They will be asking staff how they will be affected by the changes contained in the bill.
Mr Burnham is work-shadowing with colleagues Jamie Reed MP, the ‘Drop the Bill’ coordinator, Andrew Gwynne MP and Debbie Abrahams MP, members of the Shadow Ministerial Health team, alongside staff. Each Shadow Minister will publish a blog later in the day to feed their experience into the wider campaign.
Mr Burnham said: “Labour’s ‘Drop the Bill’ campaign will be fought in every corner of the country, not just in Westminster. I want to see for myself the reality on the ground and hear directly from NHS staff so I can use their experiences to challenge this out of touch Government. In Opposition, David Cameron promised no more top-down re-organisation of the NHS. In Government, he went back on his word and brought forward a dangerous Health Bill that has no democratic legitimacy. “The people of Leeds did not vote for the Bill and its doctors, nurses and patients have already expressed huge concerns. But David Cameron is ignoring professional and public opinion.”