When the right hon. Gentleman finds that his argument is not working, he resorts to abuse. It is very simple: the Bill is not about privatisation. Patients will have access to NHS-funded services; the commissioners of those services will be NHS commissioners who are accountable to the NHS through statutory bodies, and they will not be able to transfer that responsibility to the private sector. Provision will be determined by the choices that patients and their doctors and nurses make about who is the best-qualified provider, and that choice will be made on quality, not on any other basis.
On the simple fact that we are looking to use competition within a tariff system, studies from Imperial college and the university of Bristol have recently shown that when it is introduced quality increases. Indeed, research from the university of York’s centre for health economics suggests that, if anything, the use of such competition has tended to support a reduction in the inequalities of access and care, rather than to lead to greater inequalities.
Let me provide some examples, bearing in mind the path that the Labour party is looking to go down. The Eastbourne Wound Healing Centre, a social enterprise set up by a nurse and an occupational therapist, specialises in wound healing. Patients who go to their clinic often have wounds that have not healed over three years, but more than eight out of every 10 of them have those wounds healed in just six weeks. Should we prevent patients being seen there because it is not actually owned by the NHS?
The City Health Care Partnership in Hull provides palliative care at home for patients and does not put profit before patients. One carer said that
“this clinic is so different, the focus is about how the illness is affecting you and what can be done to support you through it.”
Should we stop it doing that?
Another example is Inclusion Healthcare, a social enterprise in Leicester, which the hon. Member for Leicester West might know. It provides specialist health care to the homeless. Jane Gray, its director of nursing and development, stated:
“We’re providing a better service than we did in the NHS. We’re able to innovate and shape our services without constraint.”
Should we shut it down? Would that reduce inequalities? No, it would make them worse.