The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 21st November 2014
A PRIVATE member’s Bill moved by Clive Efford, the Labour MP for Eltham will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. It aims to undo some of the damage done by the Con-Dem Coalition’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
Efford’s National Health Service (amended duties and powers) bill aims to stop the increasing the increasing privatisation of our NHS, to protect it from the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and to make the Secretary of State for Health directly responsible for running the NHS.
“The NHS as we know it today will disappear if we continue to allow services to be contracted out to private companies.” explained Efford.
“The Government’s own figures for 2013-14 show that more than £10 billion was spent on the purchase of healthcare from non-NHS bodies. If this is allowed to continue it will seriously undermine the capacity of the NHS to provide services in the future, leaving us at the mercy of the private sector.
“This Bill will halt the rush to privatisation and put patients rather than profits at the heart of our NHS.”
“My Bill will also give Parliament sovereignty over the NHS and will protect it from TTIP which threatens to allow private companies to use the courts to force the wholesale privatisation of the NHS.”
The Bill will:
Re-establish the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide national health services in England base on social solidarity. This means that the Government will no longer be able to evade any responsibility about the NHS by insisting it lies with unelected quangos and local health commissioners.
Create a roadblock to prevent private companies from using the Courts under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to force their way into providing NHS services. The Bill will mean that the treaty — even if ratified by the Government — will not be allowed to force competition obligations on to the NHS in in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Amend the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 relating to Monitor, scrapping its role as the economic regulator for the NHS forcing contracts to be opened up to private health companies.
Repeal the Regulations made under infamous Section 75 of that 2012 Act which requires commissioners to put out to tender everything that could conceivably be provided by private companies.
Ensure that all contracts will be NHS contracts, except in exceptional cases, which will take it outside of the EU’s tendering regulations which remove the obligation to allow private health providers to bid for NHS services.
The Bill has the backing of Labour whips, the unions and health bodies such as the British Medical Association.
But what are its chances of being passed? The highly controversial and unpopular 2012 Health and Social Care Act was passed after the Government was forced to “pause for further consultation” — a purely cosmetic exercise — because of the public outcry against it, and after various sections were batted back and forth between the Commons and the Lords as some of the peers tried to amend the worst parts of it.
It was passed with the full support of Liberal Democrat MPs in defiance of the wishes of their rank and file membership.
Just last week one unnamed Tory minister admitted the 2012 Bill was their “biggest mistake”.
With a general election only a few months away will any of those Lib-Dem MPs — and even a few Tories — feel inclined to redeem themselves by supporting Efford’s Bill?
It is a narrow hope. But it does suggest that even if it is not passed now, the main content of Efford’s Bill should become a high priority for an incoming Labour government in May. This has to give working class voters a much stronger reason to make the effort to vote Labour in May.