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Tories say Brown abused NHS hospital for political gain

Gordon Brown has been accused of “abusing” NHS facilities for political gain after launching Labour’s manifesto at a new hospital site. 

The Conservatives pointed out that Cabinet Office guidance advised against holding general election events on NHS premises.

In the interests of impartiality, the trust was obliged to consider a request by the Labour Party to stage a general election event at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

But speaking at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, the prime minister said the rules had not been breached.

“This is a building that is held by the construction firm, that will be passed on to the NHS in the next few weeks,” Mr Brown said.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “It is absolutely typical of the Labour Party to abuse the NHS for political advantage. This is a hospital paid for by the taxpayer, which Gordon Brown described as an NHS hospital and will serve NHS patients in a matter of weeks.” 

The trust said in a statement: “On the day the general election was called, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust had already agreed to a media event involving David Cameron and the Conservative Party at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“Subsequently, and in the interests of impartiality, the trust was obliged to consider a request by the Labour Party to stage a general election event at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

“Permission was sought from Balfour Beatty as the new hospital is not trust property until it is handed over mid April 2010.”

Readers' comments (8)

  • I really dislike to agree with the Tories but they are correct. The DH sent an email to all NHS staff last week stating that NHS should be politically neutral throughout the campaign. This is an abuse of power by a very desperate failed Government.

    There was a sense of irony though because the NHS hasn't yet paid for the building which will cost this country billions over the next three decades. What a legacy they leave behind under PFI. Let's hope many of their cronies in the DH join them on the big clearout.

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  • A weasely rationale from Gordon Brown i agree, but the idea that any political party is above cynical manipulation of politically sensitive agendas is not news to any of us

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  • The NHS is one of Labours greatest achievments, it a service that is envied across the world. Labour have every right to use and celebrate its achievments and expansion. It has been a good 13yrs but its been an even better 60 + years since its creation, which was afterall created in the aftermath of a major war with the country still issuing rationing cards and virtually bankrupt. It was political will and Labour values that prevailed. Labour has much to be proud of and its right and proper that link is publizied.
    Taking us back to the period when it was in dire straits during Thatchers era, on the brink of near destruction would be foolish and wreckless.

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  • Anon 7:16 - you clearly work in a different part of the NHS than the rest of us. We are not the envy of the world any longer. According to research by civitas the NHS is now regarded as 'the poor man of europe'.

    I agree with not allowing the Tories near it though.

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  • RE :Anonymous | 12-Apr-2010 7:16 pm

    Being proud is one thing, having double standards is another.

    When DoH sends an email for the very good reason that NHS should remain neutral and that any form of political activities on NHS premises should be avoided, there is good reasoning behind it.

    The hypocrisy of our democracy...

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  • I wondered how long before this became an issue It is quite disgraceful and entirely against the principles spelt out in Sir David's recent letter. The Trust should have resisted the pressure put upon it and refused to allow this event to have taken place. Seeing the event on the television, this isn't something that was thrown together, this must have been planned for some time.

    Perhaps UHB Foundation Trust wanted the publicity, after all they have a newPFI hospital they need to finance! Isn't this the same Trust that Tony Blair visited as part of the last election campaign?

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  • The reason the NHS is better than it was under Thatcher is because the current government have thrown vast amounts of money at it and if you undertake a survey of staff now against one undertaken during Thatcher's regime my view is that there will be litttle difference in response to many of the questions posed. The government has also thrown huge amounts at other public services and although we have seen some improvement in some services are we really getting better value for money - I doubt it! The country is struggling under huge debts because labour's approach was and still is flawed and we need a stronger leader and a stong government to make difficult choices, just like Canada did to sort out their budget deficit.

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  • We may well need 'strong leadership' but do you honestly think any one of the options will deliver it? The first one to admit that will be making a start! It is easy to blame the Government but perhaps we, the users of the NHS, need to have a few things spelled out. The time for truth is upon us. Some drugs cost in XS of £100 per day. Some badly burned patients can cost over £7 000 per day and can be in hospital for 100 days or more. HIV treatment costs over £400m anually. Everytime someone enters A&E the tills ring up between £59 and £117. No one ever makes this explicit. Until they do people will keep expecting more. We cannot have more, more, more for less, less, less.
    You could have the best commissioning and or management in the world but once all the evidence has been weighed, stakeholders consulted and a decision made (often on the grounds of safety or sustainability or better outcomes) along comes an MP and a newspaper, grossly distorting the facts, and everything is stopped in its tracks!! David Cameron has ruled out the forced closure of A&E and maternity wards in the party's manifesto for England. I am not saying whether it is a good or bad position but it is yet another example of politics and spin getting in the way of decision making. Rant over!!!

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