Wednesday, 19 February 2014

LET’S GIVE PATIENTS AND PARENTS MORE POWER OVER LOCAL SERVICES

For too long patients and parents have been shut out of decisions on the future of local schools and hospitals.

We all want the best for our family. But it can be enormously frustrating when decisions on local facilities are taken without properly consulting those that use them.

I think that’s wrong. That’s why the next Labour government will take measures to empower patients and parents. We will invoke the principle that every user of a public service has something to contribute, and that decisions should be made by public servants and public service users together.

I’m proud there are so many fantastic local schools. The pupils here receive a great education from passionate teachers. But what happens when a school begins to slip? At the moment parents have to wait for Ofsted to make the first move.

Parents know better than anyone in Westminster what is happening in their children’s schools. They’re usually best-placed to spot a problem so they should be able to influence what happens when things go wrong.

That’s why the next Labour government will empower parents to be able to ‘call-in’ action to drive up standards when their children’s school is underperforming. We’ll also ensure that all teachers become qualified and are given opportunities to renew and update their skills throughout their careers.

Since coming to power, the Tory-led Government has ignored patients and made unilateral decisions on local health services far away in Westminster. Ordinary people are locked out of meaningful discussions on the future of local hospitals, with the real decisions made beforehand. Those that rely on local hospitals like Accrington Victoria or Blackburn Royal should be amongst those that make the decisions on its future.

Labour will ensure that patients are involved with any decisions on the future of their local hospital right from the outset. We’ll make sure that they have a formal role in drawing up and deciding on proposals for changes to maternity, wards, A&E units or any other health service before they get to the consultation stage.

This will give local people more of a say, build confidence in any proposals and help people understand the available options, as well as the clinical case for any change.

The challenges facing public services – from care for the elderly to giving kids the best start in life – are too complex to impose solutions from Westminster. We need to actively engage the local people who use and rely upon them.

We’re launching these reforms to devolve power closer to local people. I hope that under the next Labour Government people in Hyndburn will no longer feel shut out of decisions on their local services. Instead, I hope they have the opportunity to make a real difference in deciding on the future of their local schools and hospitals.