NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 16th January 2012.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington 8:42 pm, 16th January 2012

With all due respect, I have very limited time and I am not going to take any interventions.

Any utterance about the nature of the NHS reforms planned by the Secretary of State during the general election campaign was heavily disguised. He weaved a tangled web in private health care during his seven years as Opposition spokesman on health. A few moments ago, he mentioned Labour’s involvement with the trade unions, but it is the involvement of the Conservatives with private health care interests that should be the subject of scrutiny.

NHS professionals, staff, the public and experts alike have all rejected the ethos of profits over patients, but the Secretary of State will not be deterred. He has defended his move by claiming that foundation trusts have a core legal duty to care for NHS patients. However, at the same time he is telling these trusts that they must make a profit to survive, and that if they run a deficit, they risk failure. That could mean being taken over by another trust or, as we have seen in the case of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Huntingdon, being taken over by a private sector provider.

We have not seen the Bill’s risk assessment, but as a member of the Public Bill Committee, I saw the impact assessment, and in point B95 it confirms that rather than improving services at hospital level through performance management, poor providers

“may need to contract or exit completely.”

That has created the ultimate Catch-22 for foundation trusts, with a conflict between patients and profits. A further Government proposal to scrap the provision in the 2006 Act which allows failing foundation trusts to return to NHS control puts further pressure on the need for trusts to pursue profits and has been opposed by the NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson.

I urge hon. Members to vote for the motion to ensure that patient care is placed before private profit and to send a clear and strong message to the Government that they must think again about their plans to ratchet up privatisation in our beloved NHS. The Minister of State, Department of Health, Mr Burns has often quoted Nye Bevan, but to quote Robin Cook,

“If he believes that the spirit of Nye Bevan supports his changes to the NHS then there is a wheel missing from his ouija board.”