Three of the candidates hoping to become the next MP for Hove set out their views on health policy and the NHS at a hustings last night (Friday 20 February).
More than 100 people filled the Glebe Hall – formerly St Leonard’s Church Hall – for the event organised by Sussex Defend the NHS.
The three candidates were Graham Cox, Peter Kyle and Christopher Hawtree. Councillor Cox hopes to retain the seat for the Conservatives, Mr Kyle hopes to win it back for Labour and Councillor Hawtree hopes to cause an electoral upset.
In their opening statements Councillor Cox said: “I’m committed to the long-term future and viability of the NHS.”
He said that he didn’t necessarily think that we should run things they were there in 1948 – the year the NHS was founded.
He said that there was too much box-ticking and that more trust should be placed in frontline staff.
Councillor Cox also said: “We will have to increase spending on the NHS but we will have to be innovative and do things more efficiently.”
He defended the Health and Social Care Act for bringing health and social care closer together and he called for more community care and more emphasis on prevention.
He praised the Martlets Hospice and said: “I don’t want to see privatisation but I do want to see choice.”
He also criticised those who placed ideology over best patient care.
Mr Kyle said: “Labour founded the NHS in the 1940s. Labour saved the NHS in the 1990s. This year Labour is in the extraordinary position of having to save the NHS again.”
He spoke of logjams in our hospitals and said that spending cuts were having a knock-on effect which was hurting hospitals and patients.
He added that the NHS would have to cope with an ageing population in Hove and Portslade.
He said that it would also have to address the gap between the poorest people in the area who live 10 years less than wealthier people who live longer.
He had spent time work shadowing at the Royal Sussex County Hospital where on one occasion there were 27 patients who had been fit for discharge for more than a week.
“We need to do more in the community,” he said and he criticised David Cameron for saying that Britain needed a pay rise to the CBI while denying a 1 per cent rise to NHS staff.
Councillor Hawtree said that the NHS was a marvellous body but “it’s patched up, got wires coming out if it, it’s drained and it’s got a drip”.
If the Conservatives are privatising the NHS, he said, it was Labour that loosened the screws.