Seeing the increasing pressure local NHS services are under, I voted in support of a Private Member’s Bill to repeal the worst parts of the Coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Act, which opened up services to compulsory competition. The Bill was introduced by Labour MP Clive Efford on 21st November.
The Tory and Lib Dem government has forced hospitals to open themselves up to privatisation, letting private companies cherry-pick the most profitable NHS services. Much needed NHS funds are being spent on competition lawyers and tendering exercises, instead of on patient care.
We opposed the Coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 because we knew it would open up the NHS to the eventual full privatisation that the Tories want. I repeatedly warned Ministers of creeping privatisation during the detailed discussions on the Bill in Committee.
Since the law was passed, with the help of Lib Dem votes, we’ve seen £3bn wasted on a needless reorganisation and profitable services put into the private sector while at the same time the NHS is under increasing pressure.
Clive Efford’s private members’ bill is an early opportunity to vote to halt the privatisation of our NHS and, as importantly, exempt it from a trans-Atlantic trade deal known as TTIP, which I first question the Prime Minister about in 2013. TTIP has the potential of opening up our health services to foreign competition too and only Labour has committed to stopping this happening.
My own NHS Check Oldham report looked into the privatisation that is currently underway in the National Health Service in Oldham and how it is being enabled by the Coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Act.
Currently seven out of ten health services across the country that have been put out to tender have been awarded to private contractors. And Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group estimates that in 2013 and 2014, nearly £93,000 will have been spent on legal and other advice for putting services out to tender.
Only Labour will ensure that the NHS once again puts patients before profits. We will transform the NHS with our £2.5 billion annual Time to Care Fund which will pay for new staff including 20,000 more nurses, to deliver care closer to patients and allow staff time to care. That’s an investment the Tories have refused to match.
I’m backing this bill as it will make sure patients in Oldham East and Saddleworth are put first. On Friday 21st November, Clive Efford’s bill was supported by 241 MPs to 18 and has cleared its first parliamentary hurdle. Labour in Government will repeal the Coalition Government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012