Press release: We call on Labour to boycott the NHS Commission

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[Tuesday 26 January 2016]

Keep Our NHS Public is calling for Labour to oppose the setting up of the Royal Commission to look at the NHS and social care announced in parliament [1] and instead to form a cross-party alliance against government plans for the NHS.

Keep Our NHS Public believes that if the current proposals for a Royal Commission are allowed to continue:

  • There are real dangers of endorsement for a Commission on the NHS and social care from the very people who supported the disastrous Health & Social Care Act. It is promoted as the brainchild of three former health secretaries from the three main parties: Norman Lamb, Stephen Dorrell, Alan Milburn. All have played a significant role in introducing internal and external market forces into the NHS. Milburn and Dorrell fell in with the private sector after leaving their NHS posts.
  • The Commission would be filled with, and headed by, government supporters appointed to ensure that the current political direction of travel is underwritten and maintained and would be predisposed to ensure this continued. It will be far from disinterested or even-handed.
  • The Commission would encourage further the ‘softening up’ of NHS management, workforce and the wider public to accept the spread of a new, uncaring ethics, typical of US health insurance corporations: completely at odds with the principles of universal healthcare on which the NHS was founded and stands for.
  • The Commission would appear as a respectable route for introducing charges. This is something all three main English political parties have toyed with then backed away from as too politically toxic. However if the recommendation came from an ‘independent’ Royal commission then it would make it much more respectable.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said:

‘Rather than supporting this unnecessary and dangerous Commission, this is a great opportunity for Labour to work with other pro-NHS allies to build a strong opposition to the Tories on what they are doing to the NHS. This is surely a chance to demonstrate clear water between the opposition and the government, and to build just such a cross-party alliance. This would be a powerful statement and clearly in stark opposition to Conservative policy on the NHS. The Tories absolutely do not want that.

‘Unless any commission took as its starting point comprehensive and universal healthcare, publicly funded, then it is effectively going to support the current direction of abandonment of those principles. Under the disguise of “sorting out the social care mess” and donning the cloak of “independence” while already pre-disposed to carry though the government’s plans and values, it could easily speed up dismantling of the NHS.’



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 [2,3] 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:

KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]

[email protected]


Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public

[1] Hansard, 6 Jan 2016: Column 287

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

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.

[3] 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

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

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  1. Keep our NHS public in public hands paid for by the public for the good of all from the cradle to the grave as Nye Bevan intended.

  2. The best healthcare for our, or any nation, is a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable health service, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It exists, it is called the NHS, and we want to keep it.

  3. Mutual trust must always be central in the doctor patient relationship. This fundamental at the centre of our NHS is being eroded and destroyed by the current direction of the NHS as privatisation in an insurance based system takes hold. The leaders of the medical profession including the BMA, GMC and Royal Colleges should recognise the retrograde impact on medical practice this will have. They do therefore have a duty to come out and mandate the only system of health care that can protect what has been a shining light of human civilisation. The politicians of the three main parties will not stand up for a comprehensive, publicly funded, publicly accountable, free at the point of delivery NHS protected from damaging ‘market’ forces. Our medical leaders must come forward and lead. The only route to this end is the NHS [Reinstatement] Bill.

    • After the shameful way the Royal Colleges lined up behind Lansley’s treacherous Health and Social Care Act, leaving it to Lord Owen to try to head off that disaster from becoming law by staging a vote in the Lords (he was defeated), we can only hope the Colleges wake up and rally round.

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