Save our NHS
Save our NHS

If you care about our NHS, this is a must read blog by Wyre Forest Labour’s Press Officer, Stephen Brown, who has been at the forefront of many local campaigns to protect our NHS:

“Wyre Forest Labour know all about what happens when our treasured NHS isn’t protected. We saw it 2 decades ago when our local A&E was closed and the party paid an electoral price for it, and still does. I wasn’t living in Wyre Forest then, but I’m told local Labour members massively opposed the closure to no avail. What I can see is that it lead to 2 terms of Dr Taylor as our MP and opened the door for Tory MP Mark Garnier to benefit from it.

Mark Garnier has been trying to prove his NHS credentials ever since, because he knows what it means if he doesn’t. So far he’s succeeded in hoodwinking everyone because he’s voted for 11 years of austerity that’s left our NHS in a perilous state. And now, with the impact of Covid exacerbating things, we have 12 million people on the waiting list. He’s also very quiet on what the Tories are doing to our NHS which will see 90% of constituencies without an A&E. He’s obviously been so impressed by the fact we don’t have an A&E, he thinks it’s a good idea for everyone else too. He just won’t tell you that and instead does his regular PR stunts with whoever happens to be the local NHS boss that week.

Tory plans mean just 40 super hospitals, mostly miles away from local people, and which will spell disaster for many who can’t travel easily. Imagine the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket for healthcare?

We already have a failing NHS thanks to policies Mark Garnier has voted for, and one of the lowest hospital bed numbers in Europe, as was seen by the need to build the special covid Nightingale hospitals. Trouble is, years of under investment left the NHS £billions short of funds, and worse, the staff to put in them – we all saw it. No amount of lies from lazy PM Boris Johnson about his phoney “levelling up” agenda and his 40 new hospitals will change that.

Now we have an even great threat to our NHS – the forthcoming Health and Care Bill. Just like Labour warned before the general election of an NHS sold to the highest bidder in a post Brexit world, it’s happening, and US business has our NHS firmly in its sights. This is the last piece of the jigsaw in the Tories ripping apart our greatest treasure, in order to hand it to its wealthy friends, mostly overseas. We’ve all seen the corruption and contracts they’ve awarded to their mates during Covid, so none of us should really be surprised. The NHS to the Tories is just another thing they can privatise and personally profit from.

This is how they are going to privatise your NHS and take it away from you…..

On 11th May, the Queen’s Speech announced a forthcoming Health and Care Bill, based on a White Paper issued in February and plans developed by NHS England. These are the key takes from that Bill:
  • The Bill will encourage further NHS privatisation through the mechanism of Integrated Care Systems (ICS). Companies, including many from the US health insurance sector, are poised to implement ICSs’ strategic plans which they themselves may help to write.
  • The White Paper appears to allow private companies to join both levels of ICS management: an ICS NHS body including local authority representation is open to unspecified others, and a Health and Care Partnership explicitly includes independent sector partners and social care providers. NHS England has accredited over 200 corporations and businesses, including dozens of US firms, to help develop ICSs.
  • NHS providers will be bound to a plan written by the ICS and linked financial controls.
  • NHS England intends most NHS funding to be delivered through a fixed block payment, based on the costs of the ICS system plan, whose value is determined locally. Local variation in funding levels could threaten national agreements on wages, terms and conditions. With local pay rates, staff may drain from areas where funding is cut, further reducing care. This is especially concerning for an area like Worcestershire with low wage levels already and NHS staff shortages. Claps didn’t pay doctors and nurses during Covid and won’t pay them in future either.
  • NHS England proposes diluting the overall skill mix, and flexible working with ‘passporting’ so staff can easily be transferred to different sites and organisations across and beyond an ICS. This will interfere with union organisation, demoralise staff, reduce continuity of care, undermine local knowledge and require more travelling. This will erode the quality of care provided.
  • The Bill will seek new legal powers to remove individual professions from regulation as new technology allows clinical decisions by app rather than by judgement, but this constitutes a risk to patients and threatens professional development. Do you want your healthcare decided by an ‘app’ not a doctor or nurse?
  • The Bill will exempt the NHS from Public Contract Regulations which safeguard compliance with environmental, social and labour laws (ILO conventions) and the ability to reject bidders with poor track records. The Government has awarded over 3,000 Covid contracts, many without procurement, some to firms with no relevant experience. This Bill could make matters worse. We all remember the Tory Govt PPE contracts given to companies that didn’t previously exist who got taxpayers money and didn’t provide any PPE. Or ferry contracts to a company with no ferries. Or £37billion blown on a privatised Covid test and trace app that didn’t work. The Tories have form here. In third world countries they call it what it is – corruption. We are also acutely aware that the reason the vaccine rollout has been done well is because the NHS delivered it, and not the private sector – and there is a salutary tale in that fact. Privatisation doesn’t work for our people, our communities, or our workers.

I strongly oppose the multiple threats to NHS staff and patients, inherent in a Bill which privileges cost reduction while handing profits to the private sector. This top down restructuring will do nothing to address waiting lists, rationing of NHS treatments, staff shortages, and the backlog in referrals caused by the pandemic and a decade of austerity funding.

We must all mobilise to face this threat to our NHS and defeat it if we want our NHS to survive. The Tories opposed the NHS when Labour set it up after World War 2. Their long standing aim is to go back to a pre-war privatised system – that my grandparents tell me was diabolical and saw people suffering and dying for lack of money. This is just like the system they still have in the USA dominated by faceless insurance companies that decide your fate. That is if you can afford insurance in the first place, and many in low paid insecure work cannot.

Mark Garnier will be keen to play all this down and assure you the NHS is safe in his hands. Don’t believe a word of it, he’s so wrapped up in his own bubble of self denial he’ll say anything to appear to be all things to everyone. He thinks you don’t care who delivers NHS services. But this matters and who delivers NHS services does matter. And you can rest assured he’ll vote with the Tory Whip for this devastating Bill when the time comes. He’ll do his duty as an obedient Tory MP like he always does, and add his signature to the death warrant of our NHS.

And that my friends is why we must resist this attack on our NHS, we must mobilise opposition, we must lobby, and we have to win. Ultimately that can only happen if everyone who cherishes our NHS recognises the danger it now faces and pulls together to stop it. This fight has no place for tribalism. We must be one team to save our NHS.”


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