Thank you to all those constituents who have contacted me regarding to Health and Care Bill 2021-2022.
I am concerned that this Bill represents a rushed, top-down reorganisation of our NHS. It will fail to integrate health and social care, erode local accountability, and give powers to the Health Secretary to hand major contracts to the private sector without scrutiny. Along with my colleagues, I voted against the Bill at second reading.
The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated. Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this is the wrong Bill at the wrong time.
The Bill leaves the door open for more instances of contract cronyism and privatisation, where private companies will have a say in how the NHS is run. There are widespread concerns that private sector involvement in NHS services has created a fragmented and marketised system. The Health and Social Care Act 2012, which I have consistently opposed, introduced competitive tendering, forced privatisation and it prevents proper integration.
Instead of this being a simple Bill to end competition and foster local collaboration, I share your concerns that it may allow further outsourcing by permitting the private sector to sit on local boards. And it does not reinstate the NHS as the default provider of services.
At Committee stage, which concluded on 2nd November, amendments and new clauses were tabled by the Opposition and other members of the Public Bill Committee on a wide range of issues. However, none of these were accepted.
Furthermore, the changes to the cap on care costs voted through on November 22nd by 272 votes to 246 will benefit the wealthiest while penalising ordinary working people, despite Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘fix the crisis in social care’ when he became Prime Minister. I was pleased to see that 18 Conservative MPs joined us to vote against the changes and 70 others had no vote recorded.
This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS. I believe the Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need. As the Health and Care Bill progresses through Parliament, myself and my Labour colleagues will continue to push for ensuring patient safety and the reduction in waiting lists, as a priority.
Thank you once again for contacting me on this issue.