SINCE winning the election, Boris Johnson has set about making good his pledges on the NHS. It was front and centre of the Queen’s Speech with a new law to guarantee funding – a promised annual 3.4 per cent increase in spending. Though massive, it is still no way big enough for Boris’s health think tank critics.
He can forget being considered the saviour of the NHS if that’s what he hoped for. He’s got a long way to go before winning over those Guardianista big spending advocates. One such, Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation, though saying that Labour needs to change also says we shouldn’t dismiss what it got right. By that she means the radical big spending plans and policies. With polls suggesting that 64 per cent of the electorate support significant increases in public spending (especially into the green economy), 66 per cent believe companies should be required to share their profits with employees, and 61 per cent that austerity has damaged vital public services, Labour’s manifesto should have resonated with many voters, yet it didn’t. All the right policies, but badly presented, Fahnbulleh argues. That’s what she’d like us to believe.
Absent from her analysis are the concerns of hard-pressed taxpayers who don’t believe they are getting value for the money they earn.
Never mind that, for Ms Fahnbulleh has ‘a wealth of experience in developing and delivering policy to empower communities and change people’s lives’. Therefore, we are led to assume, she has authority to make such statements. She has, the New Economics Foundation tells us, worked on the development of policies from devolution to local economic growth, housing, energy, climate change and transport, ‘driving forward the Government’s economic devolution agenda in England, and localism and local economic growth’. Phew . . .
In fact her organisation seems to be rather less about thinking and rather more about campaigning. It has a whole slew of causes. They are very radical, including a shorter working week, a blue new deal, a green new deal, ending the debt trap and saving public land.
Should we be bothered, you might ask, about an outfit that appears to exist for no other purpose than promoting far-Left ideology? Well, yes, and here’s the rub, given where its funding comes from.
Among the charitable organisations which support its agenda with a grand total of over £3.5million a year, including the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, even the University of Liverpool, we find halfway down their proudly transparent listings NHS England. To the tune of nearly a quarter of a million pounds a year.
That amount of money could have paid the salaries of several GPs and quite a lot of nurses. It could even have paid for an extra bed in the A & E department of Leeds Hospital, so that young Jack didn’t have to fall asleep on the floor or wait on a trolley.
Isn’t it time for Boris, or his Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to start asking Simon Stevens, the NHS’s CEO, some hard questions? Isn’t it time for them to take back control of where our money goes?