Tory Brexit raises the risk of NHS charges – Corbyn speech at the TUC

14th June, 2016 12:50 pm

NHS bill rally at Westminster

This is Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the risk of Brexit to the NHS at the TUC today.

Thank you Angie for that introduction. We are here today to defend our NHS.

Before I became an MP, I was a representative for NHS workers for the National Union of Public Employees. I got to know many staff; nurses, doctors, porters, cleaners, security and admin staff – the NHS team.

We have a big decision on 23 June, I value our NHS and admire the dedication of all its staff. I would not be voting for Remain if I thought there was any risk to our NHS whatsoever, the risk to the NHS is if we leave.

The NHS is Labour’s proudest creation. We founded it in 1948 because health is a human right, not a privilege.

But under the Tories it is in crisis. The NHS is in record deficit. What has damaged our NHS is the decisions made by this Tory Government – their top-down reorganisation and the insufficient funding.

Look at the decisions they’ve made:

  • Cutting mental health budgets,
  • Cutting nurses’ and midwives’ bursaries. I met with a group of nurses in Birmingham last week who had benefited from the bursary. Do you know what they said to me? “We want to protect it for the next generation.”
  • Slashing social care for the elderly and disabled, making it unsafe to discharge them and causing bed-blocking,
  • Opening up more of the NHS to be used by private patients,
  • And, picking an unnecessary fight with junior doctors, all while cutting taxes for the super-rich and big corporations.

That crisis would be even worse if many on the Leave side had their way.  People who have argued against the NHS and free healthcare on demand in principle. These same people now have the audacity to portray themselves as the saviours of the NHS. Most of the Leave side – the Tory right and UKIP – don’t even want there to be an NHS.

The millionaire funder of the Leave side, Arron Banks said: “If it were up to me, I’d privatise the NHS.”

Nigel Farage called for an insurance-based system to replace the NHS

Michael Gove is co-author of a book that says the NHS is “no longer relevant in the 21st century”.  A book which calls for the NHS to be replaced by a new system of health provision in which people would pay money into individual health accounts.

And Boris Johnson, who said: “If people have to pay for NHS services, they will value them more”.

Well, Michael, Nigel and Boris, people do value our NHS. Labour values our NHS. We created it and we will protect it from the likes of you.

A Vote to Leave is a vote to put our NHS in jeopardy, in the hands of those who want to break it up to end it as a service free at the point of use.

The Leave side has now admitted that a vote to leave would hit the economy that means less tax revenue to fund our NHS.

The independent Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that to meet the Government’s deficit targets would require billions more in austerity around £10 billion of which could fall on the NHS.

We must repeal the Health & Social Care Act, an Act that opens up the NHS to more privatisation and that was backed by all those now feigning concern for our NHS.

It is Labour that fought in Europe to exclude the NHS from TTIP, and we want all public services protected. As it stands, we would veto TTIP.

The Vote Leave bus said “we send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund the NHS instead”

There’s a couple of problems with that, firstly the UK Statistics Authority says that slogan is “misleading” and told them to stop using it.

The UK Statistics Authority is diplomatic when they say “misleading”, they mean dishonest. It’s an outright lie, and they know it.

And they’ve since been forced to re-paint the bus.

Does anyone really believe that those from the hard right of the Tories and UKIP would spend any extra funds on the NHS?

They’ve already promised this money again and again, on farming subsidies, fixing potholes and tax breaks no doubt for their rich friends and to corporations.

It’s not just me or Labour that is saying this, Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Conservative MP and a former GP was until last week supporting the Leave campaign.

This is what she had to say: “I could not have set foot on a battle bus that has at the heart of its campaign a figure that I know to be untrue”. Dr Sarah Wollaston is now voting for Remain, she said she feared what would happen to the NHS if we left what she called the “Brexit penalty”.

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are wolves in sheep’s clothing, using their fake concern for the NHS to mask their real agenda.

If you care about the NHS, as I do, as Labour does, as NHS staff do, then vote Remain.

The NHS is one of our greatest achievements, not just as a Labour Party, but as a country.

I’ve worked for NHS staff, the NHS has helped me and my family. I wouldn’t advocate Remain unless I knew our NHS was better off that way.

Fifty-two thousand EU nationals work in our NHS, as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. They contribute to our country and save our lives.

EU nationals are 4.7 percent of our population.  Yet they are five percent of NHS nurses and ten percent of NHS doctors.

If you care about our NHS, don’t just listen me, listen to NHS staff – every NHS workers’ union and royal college is backing Remain.

The risk to the NHS if we vote Leave is the damage to public finances caused by a hit to our economy, and the risk to our NHS by a victory for those who would scrap a universal NHS – free at the point of use.

The NHS is a force for civilisation. If, like us, you care about our health service, then listen to the dedicated staff here today, dedicated to the NHS and dedicated to remaining in Europe.

Please use your vote on 23 June to Remain and protect our NHS.

 

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