Three MPs from south-west London have joined calls on the government to scrap its plans to pass a new bill that will reorganize the NHS in England.
Andy Slaughter of Hammersmith, Marsha De Cordova of Battersea and Bell Ribeiro-Addy of Streatham were part of the calls made on 26 October outside the Houses of Parliament.
The action comes after a poll conducted by We Own It, the campaign for public ownership of public services, showed that 8 out of 10 people want the government to arrange waiting lists and ensure that people can see their GPs face to face as their top priority .
The Health and Care Act is expected to enter the next phase of the adoption on 9 November after the second reading on 14 July.
The bill will divide the NHS in England into 42 areas called Integrated Care Systems (ICS), each with their own budget and a board to oversee the delivery of healthcare services to the area.
Campaigns and trade unionists say the bill will allow private companies to sit on boards that oversee the new ICSs and make decisions about how the budget is used.
They argue that by repealing section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which requires all contracts to go through a competitive tendering process, the bill will open the NHS to more partner contracts.
Labor MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “From defective PPE to failure of testing and tracking, the pandemic has shown the catastrophic consequences of placing essential public health services in the hands of for-profit companies whose priority is to shareholders.
“The recent sale of twenty operations in south London – including three in Streatham – to a US multinational healthcare company is a reminder that the government has used the pandemic to push ahead with its privatization agenda.”
Opinion polls also show that 70% of the public is concerned that the bill will cause the NHS to hand over these contracts without control – especially to private companies.
60% of respondents say they want the bill to be amended to make NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts the standard providers of all NHS services.
Ribeiro-Addy added: “The money we spend on healthcare should go to the services we all use, not in the coffers of entrepreneurs and companies with close government ties.
“I was proud to join campaigners from across London to make it clear that I will continue to oppose the Health and Care Bill, which would accelerate this process.”
Further local actions took place in more than 20 constituencies over the weekend, with locals handing out letters to their MPs’ offices urging them to oppose the new bill.
The protest was organized by We Own It and Just Treatment, a patient-led group representing patients’ voices. I
it was supported by the Unite the Union, the British Medical Association and the National Pensioners Convention.
Johnbosco Nwogbo, senior campaign manager at We Own It, said: “This bill will inflict on steroids, the government’s corrupt contracts we have seen during the pandemic.
“With the Minister of Health set to receive increased powers in this bill, Sajid Javid will be able to simply hand out contracts to party donors and friends without any control.”
He added: “It is clear that many MPs are really concerned about how this bill will change our NHS and open it up to be used as a for-profit enterprise for profit-greedy private companies within it.
“We just hope more of them, including the Conservatives, will say no.”
Hope Worsdale, digital comms and campaign manager from Just Treatment, said: “We know the government’s plans will fail patients across the country – so now we need even more people to get involved in increasing the pressure on their MPs to reject the bill. . ”
You can follow the development in the Health and Care Act here and read more about it here.
Photographs by David Sandison, www.dsandison.com