“This is a bill to fast track the ongoing demise of our free & comprehensive public healthcare service.”Rebecca Long Bailey MP
The Health and Care Bill is a seismic piece of legislation.
The Tory Government say the bill is supposedly an instrument to drive integration and collaboration in health and social care. Indeed, the Department of Health & Social Care say that clinicians, carers and public health experts will be “empowered to operate collaboratively across health and care, as part of plans to tackle inequalities and level up health across the country”
Who would disagree with collaboration and integration of health and social care? It sounds good until you actually read the bill itself. Even just a cursory glance reveals that this bill will seriously undermine the founding principles of the NHS and all that the public believes our NHS should be.
So let’s be crystal clear on what this bill will do.
Firstly, it will lead to the further rationing of healthcare – there will be a specific limit on the amount of money given to each new Integrated Care System which will cover huge and unwieldy geographic areas. 42 in total, each with a population of around 1m to 3m people. When this money runs out so does the comprehensive levels of care people require.
For this reason, British Medical Association leaders have urged MPs to reject this Bill – warning of the failure to tackle funding or workforce shortages as well as highlighting the increased risk of NHS privatisation.
Furthermore, the Bill will put people at risk because staggeringly the bill removes the requirement for social care needs assessments to be carried out by the relevant local authority before a patient is discharged from hospital.
It will also deregulate NHS professions, which will have serious implications for quality of care, as well as for the pay and terms and conditions of a range of NHS workers.
There will no longer be a “statutory duty” to arrange hospital medical services – only a “power” to do so.
And finally it makes very clear that the NHS will be unashamedly privatised.
NHS bodies will be able to award contracts for clinical care to private healthcare providers without considering any other bids and private companies will be put right at the heart of NHS decision making and service delivery on the new Integrated Care System Boards where they will be given decision-making powers over people’s care and how NHS money is spent.
So, this is not a bill for patients, its not a bill to tackle the care backlog, it’s not a bill to properly fund our NHS or tackle the social care crisis.
Instead, it is a bill for corporate profiteers. It is a bill to reduce our rights to access healthcare.
Ultimately, it is a bill to fast track the ongoing demise of our free and comprehensive public healthcare service. It must be scrapped with those very few positive elements contained within it enshrined in separate new legislation.