Due to pressing constituency commitments I was unable to be present for the second reading of the NHS Bill 2015 in Parliament on Friday March 11th.
I was in Parliament last Friday in my shadow Cabinet role and I try never to miss two Fridays in a row in the constituency. This Friday I attended a number of meetings around mental health and I met with a number of constituents during my regular surgery.
In the event, the previous Bill on the order paper took a long time to debate due to a number of contributions from the Tories and only 15 minutes remained for the NHS Bill to be presented before time ran out. No vote took place.
Labour was supportive of the overall objectives of the NHS Bill. In particular, we supported the principles behind duties outlined in Clause 1 that would have restored accountability to the Secretary of State for the delivery of health services and the requirement that a comprehensive health service continues to be provided free of charge to all at the point of need.
Labour also believes that the encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted and that decisions about NHS services should never be called into question by any international treaties or agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Labour did have concerns that some of the other parts of this Bill would require another wholesale reorganisation of the health service which would cost billions of pounds. The recent top-down reorganisation of the NHS, brought about by the Tory-led Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act 2012, threw the system into turmoil, cost over £3 billion and totally eroded staff morale. Labour was concerned about the scale of structural change and costs associated with any further major reorganisation of the NHS. In line with our manifesto commitment at the last election, I remain committed to repealing the competition elements of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and ensuring that patient care and collaboration is always put before profits.