Law to put private companies at the centre of the NHS passes second reading. Where are the news reports?

Backhander: the new Health and Care Bill will apparently allow private companies to take your tax money – intended to support the NHS – and then use “commercial confidentiality” laws to hide how they spend it.

What a blackout.

The Health and Care Bill – a planned law by the Conservative government that aims to put private, profit-making businesses at the centre of the English NHS – passed by a huge majority just after 7pm today (July 14).

At the time of writing – more than two and a half hours later – I found only one news report about it, in Scottish website The National.

Where’s your report, BBC? Where’s yours, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News? How about you, The GuardianThe Mirror? Anyone else at all?

During the debate, health minister Edward Argar admitted that the Bill would lead to increased private influence in the NHS – but tried to sugar-coat it.

“We are determined to embrace innovative potential wherever we find it,” he said.

Let’s consider what he calls “innovative potential”:

The Bill will break the NHS in England into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS), each with its own – tight – budget that could lead to cuts in care.

These new organisations would be open to the private sector – and the removal of competitive tendering means contracts could be handed straight to asset-stripping profiteers.

Already, 200 firms are connected to the new ICS structure, including at least 30 US-based health insurance companies.

Companies could be given access to confidential patient information, more patient care will be given by less qualified staff who are cheaper, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure to make savings.

A drive towards cash-saving digital services means face-to-face GP appointments may end.

The long-awaited overhaul of the care system may end up being a demand on already-overworked family carers to take on more unpaid work as unprofitable community services are stripped away altogether.

National agreements on pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff may be swept away with employees ordered to work wherever private-sector employers find it easiest to make a profit – undermining team working, union organisation and continuity of care.

The much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State means a politician will be able to make devastating decisions about the NHS without any democratic accountability.

The Health Secretary will be able to deregulate jobs – offering them to candidates who don’t have the right qualifications but are available for the right price, risking harm to patients and interfering with professional judgement and staff development.

The NHS will be exempt from the Public Contract Regulations 2015, meaning it will be impossible to reject bids for contracts on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental, social, or labour laws guaranteeing Freedom of Association and the Right to Strike, or on the basis of a bidder’s previous history.

The Health Secretary will also impose local service reconfigurations, weakening or abolishing the right and power local authorities currently have to scrutinise significant health changes.

The Bill will not treat a single extra patient, nor will it recruit even one more nurse.

That is exactly what I told my Conservative MP, Fay Jones, when I wrote asking her to speak against the Bill, and to vote against it. Of course, she did neither. She’s a Tory drone.

Fortunately, some others had the courage to stand up for their constituents who would be affected (including those in Scotland and Wales, of course).

Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP health spokesperson, said the Bill could mean private companies will be able to take public cash and not have to publish accounts of how it is used.

“It is hard to see this as anything other than a blatant conflict of interest,” she said. “Private companies hide behind commercial confidentiality and don’t publish accounts of how they spend public money.”

Labour’s Zarah Sultana said the Bill “will put on steroids the cronyism we’ve seen in this pandemic, where Tory mates and donors having handed billions of pounds in dodgy Covid Government contracts, and it will implement a healthcare model that incentivises cuts and closures, rationing funding to health boards. This dangerous Bill is another step to privatisation.”

But they were rare voices of reason among the bleating of almost 360 Tory sheep.

A Labour amendment to deny the Bill its second reading was voted down by 359 votes to 218, and the Bill passed to the committee stage of the legislative process by 356 votes to 219.

It seems Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want to pass this Bill into law before the end of the current Parliamentary session on July 22. With this kind of complicity from their party faithful on the Green Benches, they seem certain to succeed.

And with an apparent news blackout on coverage of this crisis for publicly-provided health care, it seems the NHS will pass into the hands of the asset strippers before most of us even know it could.

Source: Health and Care Bill: NHS ‘takeover’ legislation passes second reading | The National

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5 thoughts on “Law to put private companies at the centre of the NHS passes second reading. Where are the news reports?

  1. Terence Noon.

    Here is a letter I sent to my local paper before the bill was voted on last night and before reading your superb article a mere 15 minutes ago. I felt like I was having a ‘Deja Vu’ moment…

    14-07 21
    Kill The NHS Bill. Before It Kills You…

    After all the upset caused by the racist community in regards to the Euro2020 final, and the matter of ‘taking the knee’, a massively important event is taking place today regarding OUR NHS. This will literally affect your fitness to ‘take the knee’ or not.

    In parliament today (14-07-21) the second reading of the Health Care bill will be taking place. If this bill is passed and becomes an act, you can say goodbye to a NHS which is in most, available to everybody at the point of need and not based on one’s ability to pay. It really is that serious and it really is that simple.

    We know vast swathes of the NHS services have already been privatised and sold off. Have you tried to get supports for arthritic joints and limbs lately? Have any of you tried to obtain certain medications which are no longer prescribed unless you pay for them yourself? The cost of which is decided by the ‘Big Pharma’ companies?
    The surgical procedures such as varicose vein surgery which are now classed as elective procedures. This means you can have them done if you pay for them privately.
    What this bill aims to do is to give the Health minister overall ruling on all decision made relating to health matters. Basically, what he decides is the last word on matters. It is stripping away all levels of control on such things as what treatments are funded and what treatments are left to go to the wayside. He/they can also award NHS contracts to who they feel fit ,without tender or scrutiny. Does this sound familiar? Hancock’s criminal behaviour in relation to rewarding useless PPE and Test and Trace contracts to his crony mates come to my mind.
    The current Health secretary is Sajid Javid. The same politician who was paid between 86 and 95,000 pounds for up to three days work a year as a business consultant for the US company JP Morgan. JP Morgan just happens to be one of the biggest private health insurance companies in the USA. If you want to go on holiday, even to green listed places you will need to have two PCR tests done at a cost of around £305. One before you leave and one when you return. These tests are only available privately as the Government discourages the use of the free PCR tests as provided by the NHS testing facilities.
    It also means that he can appoint anyone he likes onto advisory boards. People like Richard Branson, Dido Harding etc. can you see where this is going? The bill should be scrapped in its entirety. The NHS, our NHS is the last shining beacon of compassion and should never be run as a profit making organisation. To make bigger profits you drop standards of care and make staffing cuts. This is what will happen. A succession of Tory governments have been hell bent on destroying our NHS simply because it does not make them money.
    Please don’t let this happen. Do something. Anything, while you still have the health and fitness to do so. I’m truly sickened by this latest power grab by one of the most malicious administrations I have known in the history of health and social care.

    Mr. T. Noon. Kirkby.

  2. Jed Bland

    So next time we are ill, whether we live or die will ultimately be decided by Richard Branson and whether there’s profit in it,

    Moreover a large chunk of our tax money will go to shareholders who dont actually serve any practical purpose

Comments are closed.