PRESS RELEASE – KONP Back NHS Bill

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Embargoed until 0:01 Wednesday 1 July

Parliament will be handed a further chance to save the NHS from massive break-up and eventual collapse tomorrow (Wednesday 1 July) as the NHS Bill is laid before it by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, with cross-party support from from John Pugh (Lib-Dem), Philippa Whitford (SNP) and Jeremy Corbyn (Labour). And Keep Our NHS Public is fully behind it.

The NHS Bill, drafted by Professor Allyson Pollock and barrister Peter Roderick, frames a clear mechanism to protect the NHS against the damage of privatisation, in overturning key aspects of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) and earlier legislation that set the NHS in England on the road to fragmentation – often without public consultation, and nearly always without their full awareness.

The Bill, which was backed last week by the British Medical Association (http://m.bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2015/june/doctors-back-antimarket-legislation ), has gained cross-party support from backbenchers from Labour, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats. Labour’s frontbench is yet to commit – and of the four leadership candidates, only Jeremy Corbyn has so far backed the bill.

Ahead of the presentation of the bill, set to take place later today, Lucas is calling on all Labour leadership candidates to publicly back the bill and as a last stand in defending the National Health Service.

Far from being yet another ‘top-down, centralised, re-structuring’, crucially it hands responsibility for provision of service back to the Secretary of State for Health, something the HSCA severed – effectively uncoupling responsibility for the NHS from Parliament[1].

KONP Co-Chair Professor Sue Richards:

‘The NHS Bill has been wrongly described as promoting yet more “top-down” change for the NHS. This is a deception: it’s nothing of the sort. If nothing is done, the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS will continue, as the most profitable services are creamed off by private companies, who then whittle away standards and cut staff to make a profit. The rest will be left to struggle, a two-tier nightmare no one voted for and no one deserves or needs.

‘This Bill is a clear way to stop that. It needs to be heard, and the truth about what is happening to the NHS told.’

Professor Allyson Pollock:

‘Without the restoration of the duty to provide core-listed services, which the Health and Social Care Act removed from the Secretary of State, we will continue to see the NHS wither away.

‘We will then see a race to the bottom: the blurring of health and social care, more introduction of charges, and marketization.

‘That’s why we worked so hard on the NHS Bill and the Bill Campaign (www.nhsbill2015.org ). We’re been trying to get cross-party support and we have it. What we need people to do is to get their MPs to sign up to the legislation and back Caroline’s Private Members’ Bill.’

Caroline Lucas:

‘The NHS we love is facing an existential threat. The creeping privatization of the last quarter of a century has introduced the fragmentation and the inefficiencies this brings into our health service.

‘It’s time to take a stand for our NHS. I’m honoured to be presenting the bill today with such strong cross-party support but, to take the campaign for a truly public NHS to the next level, it’s vital that the Labour Party comes forward to back the bill.’

[Ends]

Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 46 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [7,8] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details: www.keepournhspublic.com

KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:
07870 757 309
press@keepournhspublic.com
healthjournos@gmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/keepnhspublic
Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public

[1] The Bill also spells out how, if the NHS is to be saved, it must:

  • Reinstate the government’s legal duty to provide key NHS services in England.
  • Abolish market structures like foundation trusts [2].
  • Abolish competition and contracts [3].
  • Centralise PFI debt to protect individual trusts from its impact.
  • Stop immigration health charges [4].
  • Stop treaties like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) [5] without Parliament’s approval if they cover the NHS.
  • Establish area Health Boards from the bottom up.
  • Re-establish Community Health Councils for public accountability.
  • Require national terms and conditions under the NHS Staff Council and Agenda for Change system [6].

[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models. [Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

[3] The NHS has always used private firms, partnerships and individual traders to provide services it could not easily or as cost-effectively provide for itself, eg some legal services and construction of or repair to NHS buildings. What the NHS Reinstatement Bill does is end the current obligation on NHS services to use tendering to determine which organisation delivers front-line healthcare: this is pro-privatisation engineering and is an ongoing threat to the comprehensiveness of NHS care.

[4] The Immigration Act proposes to discriminate against immigrants by charging them for NHS treatment.

[5] The TTIP, if enacted as it stands currently, would make it very difficult for future governments to reverse the provision of healthcare by private organisations if they could show this would prove commercially damaging to them [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transatlantic_Trade_and_Investment_Partnership ].

[6] The Bill would ensure that any handover of employment for NHS staff from NHS FTs, CCGs and NHS trusts to the new NHS bodies was conducted with the full participation of Trade Unions and would require the Secretary of State for Health to make regulations setting out the terms and conditions of transfer.

[7] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

[8]Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin
Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press
Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.
Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.


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