NHS should be able to produce its own equipment, says Long-Bailey

Elliot Chappell

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey has pledged her support for the NHS to be able to produce its own essential medical equipment and supplies.

In a fresh commitment made today amid the coronavirus crisis, the Shadow Business Secretary went beyond Labour’s 2019 manifesto by signing up to a new NHS pledge put to her by the campaign group We Own It.

Public ownership campaign group We Own It asked all three Labour leadership contenders to support four pledges – three of which were party policy under Jeremy Corbyn, but one of which was not.

Long-Bailey was the only one to respond to the request, and she agreed to all four pledges. The full list is:

  • Reinstate the NHS as a fully publicly owned, universal service, ending all privatisation and outsourcing;
  • Give the NHS the level of funding it needs per capita, in line with comparable countries like France and Germany;
  • Enable the NHS to produce its own essential medical equipment and supplies;
  • Establish a publicly owned pharmaceutical company to improve access to vital drugs and vaccines.

The Salford MP was joined by deputy candidates Richard Burgon and Rosena Allin-Khan who also committed to all four pledges for the health service.

Frontrunner in the deputy race Angela Rayner committed only to the three pledges that were included in the 2019 election manifesto: reversing NHS privatisation, increasing funding and creating a publicly owned pharmaceutical company.

Director of We Own It, Cat Hobbs said: “Our NHS is under pressure like never before, with the coronavirus crisis presenting the biggest threat to public health in our lifetimes. It’s fantastic to see that both Rebecca Long-Bailey and Rosena Allin-Khan have stepped up to the plate and committed to give the NHS the support it so desperately needs.

“Sadly, due to a decade of underfunding, and government obsession with market based solutions to public services, our NHS is fighting coronavirus with one hand tied behind its back. We urgently need a health service that works for all, in public hands. That means bringing the manufacture of essential equipment and pharmaceuticals into public ownership too.”

NHS Trusts across the country have reported shortages of personal protective equipment throughout the health crisis, with many health professionals absent from work at this crucial time after displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

Hobbs added: “This isn’t something the Labour Party can sit on the fence on. Whoever the next Labour leader is, they need to commit fully to supporting the NHS. I hope to see all other leadership contenders making these four pledges in due course.”

Earlier this year, We Own It released a total of ten pledges that the leadership candidates were asked to sign up to in relation to public ownership. Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer and Long-Bailey all signed up to these.

Voting in the internal Labour election processes is currently ongoing with participants voting online and by post. The ballots close on April 2nd, with the results being revealed at the weekend.

The Labour Party had initially planned to hold a special conference to reveal the outcome of both leader and deputy contests, however in light of coronavirus this has now been cancelled.

Each of the candidates in both contests will be required to record a victory speech video ahead of the results announcement on April 4th.

The other leadership and deputy candidates have been contacted by the campaign organisation and LabourList will continue to update this article if and when others express their support.

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