Healey to Cameron – stop misquoting me

John Healey has written to the Prime Minister this evening to ask him – for the second time – to stop misquoting him at PMQs. Cameron has now used selective extracts from Healey’s Kings Fund speech twice, and the shdow health secretary has asked for an apology.

In addition, Healey has asked for Cameron to apologise to a number of organisations who the government have wrongly claimed back their NHS reform plans. You can read Healey’s letter below:

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

09 March 2011

Dear Prime Minister

You misquoted me again at PMQs today, as you did last month, this time in response to Karl Turner’s question on the NHS.

Last time, I wrote to challenge this, saying, “You were either badly briefed or dishonest.†This time, it’s clear that you were being dishonest.

The aims you and the Health Secretary have declared are the reason for your NHS changes are indeed sound, as I said in my speech. But no-one could have heard my speech and believe I back your NHS reorganisation plans and legislation. I said, “It’s wrong for patients. It’s wrong for our NHS.â€

Your stated aims could be achieved without your top-down reorganisation and will not be achieved by it.

In fact at PMQs you have twice done exactly what I argue you and your Health Secretary are doing more generally with the NHS — you misrepresent those critical of your plans as supporters, you are not being straight with people and you downplay or deny the fundamental and far-reaching changes you are making to the NHS in your reorganisation.

You and your ministers may choose to misrepresent me in the Commons. But it is more serious that your Government is doing the same with organisations of NHS professionals, patients and experts.

Health minister Paul Burstow recently answered a Parliamentary Question, “To ask the Secretary of State for Health which organisations have indicated to him their support for plans for the internal reorganisation of the NHS†by listing 52 organisation that he said “have indicated their support for the principles of our national health service reformsâ€.

Almost all are critical and concerned about your NHS reorganisation, many are angry that your Government misrepresents them as supportive, and some have taken the step of confirming this to me. These organisations deserve an apology.

“Our response then went on to highlight, in detail, gave concerns regarding the White Paper, including that GP commissioning may result in a system where GPs make decisions based on the commercial and not the clinical and that patients will suffer as doctors spend more time with their account book than in the surgery.†Chief Executive, The Patients Association

“Diabetes UK has considerable concern with the way in which we hve been represented by the Minister in his answer to Luciana Berger MP’s question on 25 January 2011. We aren’t clear what statement of ours could be represented in that way and we are contacting the department of Health to ask for clarification.†Chief Executive, Diabetes UK “We were not consulted about being included on this list and I have written to Paul Burstow MP to express my disquiet that our inclusion oversimplifies Cancer Research UK’s position, particularly given our concerns over how the proposals could affect patients and researchers.†Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Cancer Research UK “We have been very clear that we have grave concerns about the scope and speed of the structural changes proposed. We believe these represent a major risk to the quality of patient care and the future of the NHS, and could result in increased costs, fragmented care and an unacceptable postcode lottery of services across the country.†Chair of Council, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

“We had previously noted that out original submission on the white paper was quoted in December’s command paper as being supportive of GP commissioning, which again was stretching a point. The RCSLT is therefore not content to be publicised as an unqualified supporter of the NHS reforms nor were we consulted about our inclusion on the list.†Chief Executive, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

This is just a selection of the responses I have received.

I look forward to receiving your explanation and apology.

Yours ever

John Healey MP
Shadow Health Secretary

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