I am backing my colleague Clive Efford’s Private Member’s Bill today aimed at restoring our National Health Service.
The Bill would overturn Tory rules that force compulsory tendering of all NHS contracts and restore the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the NHS.
Under the Tories’ damaging Health and Social Care Act, enforced competition and creeping privatisation within the NHS have left patient care as an afterthought and not the priority that it should be.
If passed, the Bill would restore real democratic accountability for the NHS, scrap the new competition framework and make sure NHS patients are always put first.
The Bill would mean that the government will no longer be able to evade responsibility for the NHS by insisting decisions lie with unelected quangos and local health commissioners.
It will also give Parliament sovereignty over the NHS and will protect it from the provisions of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which threatens to allow private companies to use the courts to force the wholesale privatisation of the NHS.
The NHS has never been more vulnerable. The Tories wasted £3 billion on a top-down NHS reorganisation that no-one wanted and they said wouldn’t happen.
New rules allow hospitals to earn up to 49 per cent of their income from private patients, leaving NHS patients to wait.
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 that trend continues it will seriously undermine NHS services, leaving us at the mercy of the private sector.
In government, Labour will ensure that the NHS puts patients before profits.
We will invest the millions of pounds saved from scrapping competition red tape in ensuring people can get a GP appointment within 48 hours, or on the same day if they need it.
The Tories have destabilised our health service. Labour will rescue the NHS with our £2.5 billion Time to Care package which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses – investment the Tories will not match.
I’m delighted to back Clive Efford’s Bill today as the first step in restoring our National Health Service.