I am backing the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which would roll back NHS privatisation, because I believe in a publicly owned, publicly run and publicly accountable NHS.
The Bill would re-establish the principle that public services should be run for the benefit of the people who use them, not for private profit. I want to see our money going on new prevention work and better pay for staff, not wasteful private contracts and employment agencies.
Green MP Caroline Lucas presented this bill to Parliament on Wednesday. It marks the culmination of months consultation by campaigners, grassroots organisations, and health experts – led by Allyson Pollock, Professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary University of London, and Barrister, Peter Roderic.
The damage privatisation is doing
In March 2010, the Health Select Committee found that running the NHS as a ‘market’ cost the NHS 14% of its annual budget. It’s expensive employing all the extra managers to tender and administer the private sector contracts.
This wasted money really matters. Under this government, thousands of jobs have been axed, including more than 4,000 senior nurses. More than 50 of the 230 NHS walk-in centres have been closed and 66 A&E and maternity units have been shut or downgraded.
In Lewisham, our hospital almost had its A&E maternity units downgraded because of the private finance initiative brought in by Labour. They set-up PFI contracts for the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Greenwich. But these were hugely expensive, and the South London Healthcare Trust had to bring an administrator in to sort it out. He decided that successful units at Lewisham Hospital should be downgraded so that more “customers” would go to the failing PFI hospitals and shore up their finances.
Damaging good hospitals to prop up private finance. That was as much a part of Labour’s legacy for the NHS in south east London as all the extra money for nurses and doctors.
The creeping privatisation is turning into a race
Privatisation has been going on for years, under Labour governments as well as Tory/Lib Dem. This chart shows how it crept up in the past eight years:
This government has made things much, much worse. Under the coalition years in that chart, the effects of the Health & Social Care Act were only starting to kick in towards the end.
A third of NHS contracts have gone to the private sector since this government’s NHS reorganisation kicked in last year.
Unless we repeal this legislation, we could see huge chunks of our health service being privatised by a Tory government determined to give contracts to friends and donors, regardless of the costs to the public purse or the impact on accountability and quality. It betrays the founding vision of the NHS.
Vote for the NHS’s founding vision
The NHS Reinstatement Bill, which I support, seeks to restore the founding principles behind the NHS and halt the creeping privatisation of public health services. It has cross party support, but in Lewisham West & Penge voters must choose between the Green Party and TUSC if you wand an MP supporting this Bill.
We are also the only two candidates wholly opposed to the big business trade deal between the EU and USA, called TTIP, which could give American health companies the power to sue our government for resisting privatisation. The campaign group 38 Degrees said that “Green MEPs have been at the forefront of the fight against the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”
Our Labour MP voted for Foundation hospitals, he supported a government that introduced the PFI wrecking ball, and his party supports TTIP.
In 1946, Bevan and those who fought for and created our NHS did so following six years of toil and unimaginable sacrifice. What the founders of our NHS achieved was radical and far-reaching and they did it in the face of strong opposition. So can we. On the 7th May, so can you.