The underfunding of the NHS in the 1980s compared with our EC neighbours amounted to over pounds 40bn. There was nothing in the Budget that even began to address this shortfall. The Government's determination to encourage private health while it runs down the NHS was reflected in the exclusion of private health insurance from the 3 per cent premium it will charge on other forms of insurance.
The 50p VAT compensation package was exactly half what was needed to keep the old warm and healthy. The average household bill for fuel will rise by pounds 1 a week with VAT at 8 per cent, and pounds 2 at 17.5 per cent. With 2,510,441
homes now having electricity meters (a staggering 42 per cent increase since privatisation), I am concerned that there will be self-disconnection on a hitherto unknown scale, which will worsen our already appalling record on winter deaths and place even more demands on our underfunded health service.
Meanwhile the staff working in the NHS can look forward to a different freeze - one on their pay.
MP for Bristol South (Lab)
House of Commons
The writer is Shadow Minister of Health.Reuse content