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The National Health Service

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:21 pm on 23rd October 2019.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care) 3:21 pm, 23rd October 2019

Okay; I welcome that. However, I would suggest that the Healthcare Safety Investigations Bill is about looking at mistakes after they have happened. I invite the Secretary of State again to look at the Scottish patient safety programme, which is more than 10 years old and has reduced hospital deaths, including post-surgical deaths, by over a third because the aim is to prevent harm in the first place.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s reference to whistleblowers, but it is not just about having guardians in hospitals. It is critical that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 is reformed. Only 3% of employment tribunals are successful. All Members who have dealt with any cases on this issue will know that the wreckage of whistleblowers’ careers acts as an absolute brake on people coming forward. You can say what you like, but they are faced with the question, “Do I speak up and risk my career, my family income and my home?” It is not just a matter of paying lip service to this issue; we actually need change.

I welcome the ending of the private finance initiative, which was originally brought under a Conservative Government, but was really accelerated, I am afraid, under Gordon Brown. We are now facing the fact that £13 billion-worth of hospitals in England will have cost £80 billion by the time they are paid off. I call on the Secretary of State not just to end the PFI going forward, but to look at whether these contracts could be ended and renationalised to avoid another £55 billion having to be paid over the next 30 years. This problem is UK-wide, so we were saddled with these contracts in Scotland as well. There are health boards across England that are spending up to 16% of their income on their PFI contracts, and that obviously undermines patient care.