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NHS Outsourcing and Privatisation

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 23rd May 2018.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade Unions and Workers' Rights) 5:16 pm, 23rd May 2018

The hon. Gentleman is right: many Members representing English constituencies want to talk about their constituents’ experience, and I think it only fair to allow them to do so—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman can try all he likes, but I will not be shouted down by anyone in this Chamber.

What about running costs due to market forces themselves? What about the contracting design, the tendering, the bid teams, the corporate lawyers, the billing and the profits? The Government appear to have moved from an internal market to the external market that is now in England. [Interruption.] Members keep trying to shout me down, but I will continue talking. It is disrespectful to shout Members down in this Chamber. I will continue my speech, but I want to accommodate other Members. I do not think that they should be subject to a four-minute time limit, and I want to give them time to talk about their constituents.

A petition that received 237,095 signatures was debated in Parliament in April. The signatories are very concerned about outsourcing in the NHS, and they have every right to be concerned about the approach of this Administration. Others have warned of the threat of English health privatisation as it applies to devolved services. The trade union Unison has warned:

“The Tories might not run NHS Scotland, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t attacking it. We must fight to save it.”

It also says:

“Devolution means they can’t run down and privatise our NHS directly, the way they are doing in England”,

but what the Tories can do is starve it of resources. The NHS is under threat from privatisation and cuts. The Tories’ health Act pushed the profit motive to the heart of the English national health service.

I hope that the Minister will address a number of things mentioned by Jonathan Ashworth when he responds to the debate because I find what has been happening astonishing. I opposed outsourcing and privatisation before I was in this place, as a trade union activist for 20 years. The issue of West Sussex has been mentioned, but we have heard no response. We have also heard about Carillion—I was on the joint inquiry into Carillion—and the effects of what happened on Liverpool. We heard about the collapse of the £800 million contract in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for older people’s services.

Those issues are all serious, and people across the UK who are watching our proceedings will be concerned about the outsourcing and privatisation of the NHS in England—[Interruption.] I will not be shouted down. The Scottish Tories think that they can shout people down, but that will not happen with me. I am reaching the conclusion of my remarks, so the hon. Members for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont) and for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton) will have to be patient until another day.

Those who are watching these proceedings will be very concerned about the outsourcing and privatisation of the national health services in England. People want to see a publicly owned national health service across these islands.