Will YOU demand that YOUR MP attends vital debate on the future of the NHS?

Petitioners demanding that the Tory government must pause its plan to completely re-structure health and social care are to get a Parliamentary debate about it. But will your MP bother to attend?

The Tories’ Health and Care Bill represents a giant leap backward for health and social care in the United Kingdom, following the many baby steps away from decent provision that Conservative – and New Labour – governments, fearful of a public backlash, have made over the last few decades.

I discuss the major betrayals in the legislation here. The headline points are:

Services will be cut or rationed and the NHS will become an unregulated market for healthcare firms.

The Bill will break the NHS 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.

Non-urgent referrals to hospital may be 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.

Oh, and you remember the much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State? It 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 lead to the treatment of even one extra patient, or the recruitment of even one more nurse.

The petition states: “This White Paper… is being rushed through without adequate consultation with NHS frontline staff doing the work, local councils providing social care and the public using the services, when there are major concerns about proposals.”

In a response made after the petition won more than 10,000 signatures, the government stated that it “has no plans to pause the proposals”.

The long, self-justifying response adds: “Money will flow from the Integrated Care Board to providers largely through contracts for services and outcomes, which may be managed by place-based partnerships or provider collaboratives.” This means private organisations may decide which of them receives public money, and what they do with it.

“Service provision by the independent sector has been an important and valuable feature of the system under successive governments.” Considering the fall in the quality of healthcare under the Tories since 2010 (the NHS is now ranked fourth-best health system in the world – down from top place before the Tories slithered into office again), one has to question whether the value has really gone to patients – or to shareholders.

The government’s claims have been roundly condemned. The current situation has been summed up in this Twitter thread by one of the stewards of the petition:

The best way for you to get your MP to attend, listen, and perhaps even participate in the debate is simply to write to them. There is a dedicated website for just that purpose and you can visit it here.

All you have to do is point out that MPs will hold a debate on the Future of the NHS on Wednesday 22 September in Westminster Hall, starting at 2.30pm. The debate will be led by Richard Burgon MP and that, as your representative, you expect your MP to attend in order to learn why the current Health and Care Bill is not acceptable to the people of England or those in the wider UK who will be affected by its changes.

Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson and the Tory government are slowly turning your National Health Service into a system for funding private health companies who are more concerned with making a profit than in improving your health. I understand that already services across England have been curtailed because they are not profitable.

If you want to know where this is leading, take a trip to the United States and get yourself hospitalised (if you can afford the bill. My guess is that you can’t).

Healthcare there is extremely expensive and therefore exclusive. If you can’t afford it there, you won’t be able to afford it in the UK, once Javid, Johnson and their cronies have finished turning the NHS over to private companies.

That is what will happen if you don’t do something about it. Will you?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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