To respond to some of the misrepresentations of the Opposition, I worked for the NHS for some 12 years and hold it in the very highest regard. I am here to defend the NHS against privatisation, and I make no apology for doing so to Government Members or anyone else for that matter.
It is fitting to pay tribute to all those who work in the NHS and who make it such a tremendous institution. I also pay tribute to members of the British Medical Association consultants committee who took part in Bevan’s run to mark their opposition to the dreadful Health and Social Care Bill as part of the “Drop the Bill” campaign. They ran 160 miles in six days from Nye Bevan’s statue in Cardiff to deliver a postcard to the Department of Health in Whitehall to call on the Secretary of State to drop the Bill.
In the limited time available, I should like to address the point in the motion about the cap and to address Government Members’ misrepresentations. The private patient income cap, which was set up under the previous Labour Government in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, which established NHS foundation trusts, was a protection against the need for profit overtaking the needs of NHS patients. With all hospital trusts set to become foundation trusts by 2014, a meaningful cap on the amount of resources that can be directed to the care and treatment of private patients becomes even more important.
The passage of the Health and Social Care Bill—it is in the Lords at the moment—can only be described as a shambles. It is an incredibly unpopular piece of legislation. There could have been agreement on, for example, clinical involvement in commissioning, but that could be achieved without this incredible disruption to the service. I certainly believe that it is harmful to the future existence of the NHS. There is no mandate or basis for it in the Conservative or Lib Dem manifestos or in the coalition agreement. This NHS privatisation plan might be better described as an NHS privatisation paving Bill—