Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lab-Con-Dem coalition still intent on privatising the NHS

A letter by Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party:

"Despite hollow government assurances and some cosmetic changes to the Health and Social Care Bill in recent weeks, the reality is that its main purpose - to vastly increase the commercialisation of the NHS - remains intact.

"This is not scaremongering. We can already see the ground opening up to more NHS hospitals being run by the private sector. Just this week, for example, George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire confirmed it's open to a takeover and in talks with potential private partners.

"A broad coalition of people, including many working in the NHS, are now deeply worried about the government's plans for top down reform. Many hundreds of constituents have lobbied me with their concerns. And people are right to feel anxious.

"This Bill allows hospitals to use nearly half our public beds for private work. It introduces a dangerous element of competition between service providers, and allows private companies to cherry pick the easiest cases for treatment.

"It proposes a much more complex NHS structure, and rather than giving power to local GPs, it creates confusion about individual bodies' roles and responsibilities - and a crisis of accountability. To make matters even worse, it makes provision for charging, and removes the statutory duty to provide public health services for children, smoking cessation services, alcohol and drug services and a raft of other crucial services.

"The government has no mandate for any of this, from the voters or in the Coalition Agreement. We must now join together to force the Prime Minister to drop the Bill.

"We must also have a wider debate about the creeping commercialisation of the NHS that has taken hold over the last 20 years - helped along in no small part by the previous Labour government - to ensure that we safeguard the founding principles of our health service."

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