A few weeks ago, straight questions on the NHS were put to every Parliamentary candidate in Shropshire. The process was entirely above board, open and transparent. In each constituency, a registered voter wrote to their local candidates. Evidence was given to candidates about the escalating crisis in the NHS. Candidates were asked to respond to questions on NHS finance, locally and nationally, on privatisation of clinical and support services in the NHS; and on the threats to one of our A&E units and the hospital on the same site.
Evidence was made available to candidates about what’s now happening to the NHS. We told them about the £18 million deficit in the budget of the organisation running the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospitals. We told them about the deliberate, planned and engineered £30 billion black hole in NHS finance nationally. We told them about the impact of declining investment in the NHS: the 76% of acute hospitals in debt, and the winter of A&E chaos that the NHS has endured. We told candidates about escalating privatisation, describing some of the massive NHS contracts that are now being awarded to big business. We told them of the risks of having a single A&E in Shropshire, covering a patient population of 540,000 over 2000 square miles.
And what happened?
One candidate (Owen Paterson) entered his name on the survey, but sadly didn’t want to tell us anything about his views on the NHS.
Ten candidates completed the survey: all five Green Party candidates, three Labour Party candidates, and one candidate each from the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.
One Liberal Democrat sent us an email saying he was not going to complete the survey. One Conservative candidate sent an email that was about the NHS but did not respond to any of the evidence we had provided about finance, privatisation, or what’s happening to our local hospitals. Continue reading