Burnham sets out vision for “whole person service”

by Sep 23, 2013 4 Comments

Labour is expected to take the “historic step” of calling for the full integration of social care into the NHS south of the border, when the party meets in Brighton this week.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told Holyrood that he has the backing of party leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls to set out his vision for one service looking after the whole person.

The expected announcement comes as the Scottish Parliament has already begun scrutinising legislation to facilitate the integration of health and social care services in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill seeks to achieve greater joint working between health boards, local authorities and other partners in a bid to improve outcomes and also the efficiency of services.

Burnham told Holyrood that the status quo in England is “fundamentally unacceptable”.

“I think people are way ahead of politicians on this and in England, governments of all colours have for many years had an approach of disinvestment towards social care and allowed people to pay charges, etc and what that has left us with is a malnourished, minimum wage, zero-hours social care system dishing out social care in 15-minute slots, with barely time to make a cup of tea, never mind have a meaningful conversation and so my argument is that that will never provide enough care for my parents or for anyone’s parents. The message we are sending out is that looking after someone’s parents is the lowest calling you can answer in society and that can not possibly be right, so if you are serious about changing that then you need to be serious about saying we need to pay differently for social care and I am, so I don’t shy away from that.”

Burnham also revealed that he hopes to see greater consistency of health policies across the border. Since responsibility for health was devolved to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, it has used its powers to pursue separate flagship policies such as free personal care, free eye tests, and free prescriptions, and also chose to introduce the groundbreaking ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces a year ahead of England. However, while Burnham professes to be a “huge advocate” of devolution, he suggests that it now needs to enter a “different phase”.

“That is why I am talking quite passionately about getting English Labour MPs back up the road and for me, sitting down with Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] and others and saying, let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Wouldn’t that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways? Devolution, in its early days, was about doing something different and it needs to enter a different phase where we start talking again more about a UK-wide policy because in the end, that helps everybody.”

Katie Mackintosh Katie Mackintosh

Katie is Holyrood magazine's Health Correspondent and has been with the magazine since 2005. She has an MA in Sociology with Gender from Edinburgh University and a post graduate diploma in Journalism from Napier University. Katie has been named PPA Scotland Feature Writer of the Year three times - in 2008, 2009, and again in 2013. She was also shortlisted for magazine writer of the year at the Scottish Press Awards in 2012. An Aberdonian by birth but a Glaswegian by nature, she now lives in Fife with her husband and young...


  1. NorthBrit

    How does Mr Burnham propose to annex Scottish health policy so that he can lower healthcare standards north of the border to the level of the completely broken English NHS.

    Did he really just say “wouldn’t colonisation be a good thing”?

  2. Mac

    Margaret Curran’s speech on restraining Holyrood now followed up by Andy Burnham’s calls for policy “consistency” and that devolution needs to enter a “different phase” should be setting off ALARM BELLS.

    The Scottish parliament will be effectively neutered if Scotland votes NO in the 2014 referendum, and it really doesn’t matter if Labour or the Tories win in 2015 the result will be the same – Holyrood is going to be stripped of power over Scottish health and Scottish education.

    Scottish Home Rule is now under direct threat from Westminster.

  3. IainM

    Apparently, this is Andy Burnham’s big idea for the NHS outwith Scotland to secure a Labour win at Westminster in 2015…
    …and in the process to achieve this “pulling in the same direction”, he and his One Nation Labour chums will dismantle NHS Scotland.
    Mr Burnham, there’s very good reasons why NHS Scotland offers far superior quality healthcare – it is because we do it differently.

  4. Sunshine on Crieff

    Just a note to Andy Burnham: Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] are not in government in Scotland, and are not going to get anywhere near power if they propose handing over responsibility for health to the Secretary of State for Health in England.

    The whole point of devolving services like health to the Scottish Parliament was to protect the service from people like you. Continue to run down England’s health service if you so choose – that is a matter for you and the English electorate – but the Scottish NHS is NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!

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