I beg to move,
That this House
believes there is an important role for the private sector in supporting the delivery of NHS care;
welcomes the contribution made by private providers to the delivery of the historic 18-week maximum wait for NHS patients;
recognises a need, however, for agreed limits on private sector involvement in the NHS;
notes with concern the Government’s plans to open up the NHS as a regulated market, increasing private sector involvement in both commissioning and provision of NHS services;
urges the Government to revisit its plans, learning from the recent problems with PIP implants and the private cosmetic surgery industry;
believes its plan for a 49 per cent. private income cap for Foundation Trusts, in the context of the hospitals as autonomous business units and a ‘no bail-outs’
culture, signals a fundamental departure from established practice in NHS hospitals;
fears that the Government’s plans will lead to longer waiting times, will increase health inequalities and risk putting profits before patients;
is concerned that this House has not been given an opportunity to consider such a significant policy change;
and calls on the Government to revise significantly downwards its proposed cap on the level of private income that can be generated by NHS hospitals.
It is a year this week since the Health and Social Care Bill was introduced in this House. Unlike the Government, we wanted to mark the anniversary, and having this Opposition debate seemed the right way to do it. It is happening because the Government have effectively sidelined this elected House from the debate about the future of the national health service. No single issue matters more to the people who put us all here, but what the future holds for the hospitals in our constituencies is no longer up to us. Instead, it is the unelected House that is right now carving up England’s NHS through back-room coalition deals. Ministers are making a series of desperate concessions in the other place to try to preserve the pitiful levels of support that remain for this unwanted and unnecessary Bill.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me summarise this scandalous situation. Here we have a Bill that nobody voted for. It was not in either the Tory or the Lib Dem manifestos, and it was ruled out specifically by the coalition agreement, yet it was rammed through this elected House so that the real decisions could be taken down the corridor in the unelected House. It is truly an affront to democracy that our nation’s most valued institution should be treated in this way. It thus falls to the Opposition to let this House take a view this evening on the far-reaching amendments to the Bill that are now being tabled, which Ministers were clearly too scared to table in this House.