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Shadow health secretary claims government not negotiating with nurses to make them ‘scapegoat’ for wider NHS failings – live | Politics


Streeting claims ministers not stopping health strikes because they expect ‘patients to suffer this winter’ anyway

MPs are currently debating a Labour motion on the NHS workforce. Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, opened for the opposition and he said the NHS was facing “the worst crisis in its history”. He said:

Seven million people are waiting for NHS treatment and they are waiting longer than ever before. 400,000 patients have been waiting more than a year.

Heart attack and stroke patients are waiting an hour for an ambulance on average when every minute matters. 24 hours in A&E isn’t just a TV programme, it is the grim reality facing patients in an emergency.

Behind those statistics, people are being held back from living their lives, people forced to give up work because they can’t stand the pain.

Young people still bearing the scars of lockdown unable to get the mental health support they need to step into adulthood. Families losing loves for no other reason than the NHS was unable to treat them in time.

It [the NHS] has now fallen over. For the first time in the history of the NHS, people no longer feel certain when they phone 999 or arrive in A&E that they will be seen in time. It’s the first time in our country’s history that people have not felt confident that emergency medicine will be there for them when they need it.

The government … sent the NHS into the pandemic with 100,000 staff shortages. They spent a decade disarming the NHS before sending it into the biggest fight it’s ever faced.

Streeting also claimed that the government was allowing the NHS strikes to go ahead this winter, instead of negotiating a settlement, because that would provide an excuse for wider failures with the service. He told the Commons

Why on earth are they not sitting round the table and conducting serious negotiations?

I will tell you why – they know that patients are going to suffer this winter, they don’t have a plan to fix it, so instead of acting to improve care for patients and accept responsibility, they want to use nurses as a scapegoat in the hope that they avoid the blame.

We can see it coming a mile off. It is a disgusting plan. It is dangerous. And it won’t work. And if I’m wrong, perhaps members opposite could explain why the government is not trying to prevent the strikes from going ahead.

In response, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, said Wales, where Labour is in government, showed why the party could not be trusted on health. He said:

[Streeting] said they have a plan in government. Well let’s look at that plan. More than a fifth of the entire population of Wales are waiting for planned care. Sixty thousand in Wales are waiting over two years. So we can see exactly what their plan in government delivers.

Key events

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Quince says 97% of all PPE ordered was suitable and fit for use.

Where that was not the case, the government is seeking to recover costs, he says.

In instances where there have been allegations of fraud, those allegations have been investigated.

He says only 12% of the 430 bids dealt with through the VIP lane were approved.

But all bids went through the same due diligence process, he says.

Meg Hillier (Lab), chair of the public accounts committee, intervenes. She says MPs knew the government had to procure PPE quickly. But her committee warned at an early stage that risks were being taken.

Quince says the government published details of how the VIP lane worked. The NAO has published three reports, he says. He says the public accounts committee has looked at this, and the Boardman review covered procurement too, he says. So there is accountability, he insists.

Health minister Will Quince says ministers were not involved in decisions to award PPE contracts

Dawn Butler (Lab) says civil servants were begging ministers not to give contracts to some of the companies that did get contracts. She says the government was acting in a ‘“corrupt” manner.

Quince says that is the first he has heard of that claim. If Butler has evidence for it, she should produce it, he says.

He says only 12% of firms referred to the VIP lane got contracts.

And ministers were not involved in those decisions, he says. He says a team of 400 officials dealt with the referrals, and applied due diligence.

Karl Turner (Lab) asks about a British firm that did not get a sniff of a PPE contract because it was nowhere near a VIP lane. He says Quince should just say sorry.

Quince says Turner forgets the pressure under which officials were working.

He says the British people would not have forgiven the government if it had stuck to conventional procurement procedure while the crisis was on.

Will Quince, the health minister, is responding for the government.

He urges MPs to remember where they were three years ago. Within weeks, Covid pushed global supply chains to breaking point.

Neale Hanvey (Alba) says at the start of the pandemic he asked for an assurance that profiteering would play now part in procurement. But the domestic procurement industry ended up being charged for doing the right thing, he says.

Quince says at the start of the pandemic only 1% of PPE used in the UK was made here. But now three quarters of the FFP masks used in the UK are made here.

Rayner says this government has presided over scandal after scandal that has engulfed their party.

She urges the Tories not to vote for another cover up.

Rishi Sunak promised professionalism, integrity and accountability, she says. But that sounds like more hot air.

She says Labour would set up an office for value for public money.

Let’s end the cover up and start the clean up, she says.

Rayner says businesses that played by the rules lost out as a result of this process.

She says the Welsh government operated an open PPE procurement process. That was in complete contrast to what happened at Westminster, she says.

Labour’s Angela Rayner says public deserve to know if ‘dodgy lobbying’ contributed to vast waste of public money

Rayner says a company was 10 times more likely to get a contract if it was in the VIP lane.

She says one in five of the emergency contracts handed out for PPE have been flagged for corruption.

And she says contracts worth £3.5bn were handed out to people with Tory contracts.

She says the public deserve answers as to whether the “dodgy lobbying” at the heart of this scandal led to vast amounts of taxpayers’ money being wasted.

In the Lords Tory peers recently voted against an amendment that would prevent a repeat of the use of a VIP lane for government procurement.

MPs must decide if they will act to prevent a repeat. Addressing Tory MPs, she says:

Learn your lesson. Don’t let this shameful episode be repeated.

Neale Hanvey (Alba) says the money made in profits in the PPE Medpro case would have been enought to settle the firefighters’ dispute in Scotland.

Rayner agrees that money has been wasted. She says £770,000 is being spent every day on storage for PPE that was never used.

Meg Hillier (Lab), the chair of the public accounts committee, says the government is still trying to resolve disputes relating to 176 contracts, worth a total of £2.7bn. That means the government is trying to recover money owed.

Rayner says these sums are “eye watering”.

Kieran Mullan (Con) says we do not usually find out how Labour would have dealt with a policy problem. But in this case we do know, he says, because Labour recommended some people for PPE contracts, including a football agent.

Rayner says the only MPs who got access to the VIP lane were Tory MPs. No opposition MPs got access, she says.

Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, is opening for the opposition.

She says the motion has a simple purpose: it is a plea for answers.

She says she wants to “end the cover up, and begin the clean up”.

She says £10bn of spending on PPE during the pandemic has been written off because it was unusable, overpriced or undelivered.

Unusable PPE that cost £4bn has been burnt, she says.

Rayner says, while she will not comment on ongoing investigation, PPE Medpro was referred to the VIP lane (which was used to fast track PPE bids for assessment) after being referred by a sitting member of the cabinet.

She is referring to Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, although she does not name him.

Gove was lobbied by another Tory politician, Rayner says. She is referring to Lady Mone, but, again, she does not refer to her by name.

Before the PPE Medpro debate starts, Winterton tells MPs that the general rule saying MPs should not criticise individual members of the House of Lords, unless they are debating a motion naming them (which they are not today), remains in force.

The Labour motion calling for the end of non-dom tax status was passed by 226 votes to 0, because Tory MPs abstained.

Toby Perkins (Lab) makes a point of order, pointing out that in the past the government took motions of this kind seriously. If they opposed the motion, they voted against. But now the government just ignores them, he says. He asks what can be done to get the governmnet to take these divisions seriously.

Dame Rosie Winterton, the deputy Speaker, says it is not for her to tell the government when it must vote.

MPs to debate Labour motion calling for release of papers relating to contracts awarded to PPE Medpro

In the Commons, MPs are voting on the Labour motion calling for non-dom tax status to be ended, with the money raised being used to expand the NHS workforce. After the result is announced, they will move on to the next debate, on the Labour motion calling for papers relating to the awarding of PPE contracts to PPE Medpro, the firm reportedly linked to the the Tory peer Lady Mone (although she has denied this in the past).

Here is my colleague David Conn’s recent story about Mone and her family making £29m from PPE Medpro.

And here is the text of the Labour motion.

That this house –

(a) notes that the Department for Health and Social Care purchased more than £12bn of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in 2020-21;

(b) regrets that the government has now written £8.7bn off the value of this £12bn, including £4bn that was spent on PPE which did not meet NHS standards and was unusable;

(c) is extremely concerned that the government’s high priority lane for procurement during the pandemic appears to have resulted in contracts being awarded without due diligence and wasted taxpayer money;

(d) considers there should be examination of the process by which contracts were awarded through the high priority lane; and

(e) accordingly resolves that an humble address be presented to His Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to give direction that all papers, advice and correspondence involving ministers and special advisers, including submissions and electronic communications, relating to the government contracts for garments for biological or chemical protection, awarded to PPE Medpro by the Department for Health and Social Care, references CF-0029900D0O000000rwimUAA1 and 547578, be provided to the committee of public accounts

Patrick Wintour

Patrick Wintour

The UK urgently needs to do more to help more than 28 million people in drought-stricken Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, two former secretaries of state for international development and the heads of 14 of the UK’s leading aid agencies have warned in a joint letter to Rishi Sunak.

They say one person is dying every 36 seconds yet British aid to the region is only one-fifth of what Britain provided when the region was struck by a major famine in 2017

More than 7 million children are acutely malnourished across the three countries.

The letter, signed by the former Labour international development secretaries Hilary Benn and Clare Short, warns:

East Africa is facing a catastrophic hunger crisis caused by one of the worst droughts in living memory. It is looking increasingly likely that a fifth consecutive rainy season has failed in the region, leaving millions of families in a desperate situation and facing starvation …

Although a full-scale famine is yet to be officially declared, what we are seeing on the ground is a famine in all but name. Despite the rapidly mounting death toll, the international response is woefully underfunded and the UK has failed to do its bit.

The letter was released ahead of the development minister Andrew Mitchell giving evidence this afternoon to the international development committee on the impact of massive UK aid cuts, and the amounts being spent on housing Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

Despite an announcement by Mitchell of extra humanitarian aid to Somalia on a visit last Friday, the UK has confirmed an allocation of just £156m this year across east Africa, less than a fifth (18%) of the £861m provided in 2017-8 during the region’s last major hunger crisis which helped to avert a widespread famine.

On a visit to western Somalia last week, Mitchell announced an extra £14m in humanitarian aid to Somalia. During his two-day visit Mitchell told the BBC it was “unacceptable” that the world was “neglecting people who are dying in the Horn of Africa” because so much aid money had been diverted to Ukraine.

The UK has given Somalia £62m this year, considerably less than the £101m provided in 2021 and the £232m it gave in 2020. Food inflation in Somalia is currently 15%.

The letter calls for the UK to step up and show leadership in this area again before it’s too late.

Sam Bright from Byline Times has more on Lady Mone’s attendance at the House of Lords.

It’s ironic that Michelle Mone is taking a ‘leave of absence’ from the Lords, considering that she appears to have attended only nine times in the last 12 months of available data.

— Sam Bright (@WritesBright) December 6, 2022

Streeting claims ministers not stopping health strikes because they expect ‘patients to suffer this winter’ anyway

MPs are currently debating a Labour motion on the NHS workforce. Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, opened for the opposition and he said the NHS was facing “the worst crisis in its history”. He said:

Seven million people are waiting for NHS treatment and they are waiting longer than ever before. 400,000 patients have been waiting more than a year.

Heart attack and stroke patients are waiting an hour for an ambulance on average when every minute matters. 24 hours in A&E isn’t just a TV programme, it is the grim reality facing patients in an emergency.

Behind those statistics, people are being held back from living their lives, people forced to give up work because they can’t stand the pain.

Young people still bearing the scars of lockdown unable to get the mental health support they need to step into adulthood. Families losing loves for no other reason than the NHS was unable to treat them in time.

It [the NHS] has now fallen over. For the first time in the history of the NHS, people no longer feel certain when they phone 999 or arrive in A&E that they will be seen in time. It’s the first time in our country’s history that people have not felt confident that emergency medicine will be there for them when they need it.

The government … sent the NHS into the pandemic with 100,000 staff shortages. They spent a decade disarming the NHS before sending it into the biggest fight it’s ever faced.

Streeting also claimed that the government was allowing the NHS strikes to go ahead this winter, instead of negotiating a settlement, because that would provide an excuse for wider failures with the service. He told the Commons

Why on earth are they not sitting round the table and conducting serious negotiations?

I will tell you why – they know that patients are going to suffer this winter, they don’t have a plan to fix it, so instead of acting to improve care for patients and accept responsibility, they want to use nurses as a scapegoat in the hope that they avoid the blame.

We can see it coming a mile off. It is a disgusting plan. It is dangerous. And it won’t work. And if I’m wrong, perhaps members opposite could explain why the government is not trying to prevent the strikes from going ahead.

In response, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, said Wales, where Labour is in government, showed why the party could not be trusted on health. He said:

[Streeting] said they have a plan in government. Well let’s look at that plan. More than a fifth of the entire population of Wales are waiting for planned care. Sixty thousand in Wales are waiting over two years. So we can see exactly what their plan in government delivers.

The SNP has joined Labour in saying the Conservatives should have removed the whip from Lady Mone in the House of Lords (see 12.42pm), instead of waiting for her to take leave of absence. Brendan O’Hara, the SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, said:

The reality is that Baroness Mone should have had the whip removed from her a long time ago while a thorough investigation into her business dealings was carried out.

Instead, the Tories have turned a blind eye while presiding over an anything-goes culture that has seen vast sums of money given to friends, family and party donors.

The exact circumstances surrounding Baroness Mone’s case are now the subject of a National Crime Agency investigation, which must be allowed to proceed without hindrance – but it is clearly for her to answer exactly how much money she and her family have made from these contracts, in what circumstances and what tax arrangements were made.

But the bottom line in this whole affair is that the stench of sleaze surrounding this broken Tory government has become simply unbearable.





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