Relaunch of NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign in Yorkshire, November 7th, Shipley College

Skipton and Keighley 38 Degrees group are holding a public workshop in Shipley on the afternoon of 7th November, to relaunch the Yorkshire campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

NHSBill2015_scaledupIn July 2015, twelve MPs – including Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and Jeremy Corbyn, now Labour leader – presented the NHS Reinstatement Bill in the House of Commons, as a private members bill. It is due for its second reading on 11 March 2016. The Bill is supported by MPs from five parties.

Can the relaunched campaign make that six, by getting some Tory MPs on side? After all, 77% of Tory voters and supporters want a publicly owned, publicly run NHS.

Barrister Peter Roderick, the Bill’s co-author with Public Health Professor Allyson Pollock, will attend the 7 November workshop to explain the Bill and answer questions about it.

People who would like to attend the Workshop are asked to sign up in advance.

The relaunched campaign will build on the General Election campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill, that was carried out in our region by scores of Yorkshire and Humber Parliamentary Candidates from various parties, as well as members and supporters of several Defend the NHS campaign groups – including 999 Call for the NHS, Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS, Huddersfield Keep Our NHS Public and North Kirklees Support the NHS.

However the political context is now completely different, so the relaunched campaign has to take account of that.

What is the NHS Reinstatement Bill?

The NHS Reinstatement Bill is a private members’ bill that was first tabled in the House of Commons in the last Parliament, on March 11 2015, during the 2015 General Election campaign.

The Bill aims to repeal NHS marketising and privatising legislation – most importantly, but not only, the 2012 Health and Social Care Act – and to restore the NHS to its founding principles as a publicly owned, publicly funded, publicly run, universal, comprehensive health service that is based on patients’ clinical needs, is free at the point of use and that the Secretary of State for Health has a duty to provide and promote.

This is to stop and reverse the effective dismantlement of the NHS  by the undemocratic 2012 Health and Social Care Act, that was not in any party’s election manifesto.

The 2012 Act has removed the duty of the Secretary of State to provide a universal, comprehensive health service that is based on clinical need and free at the point of use. It has introduced a legal obligation on NHS commissioning bodies to put contracts for NHS services out to competitive tender.  It does not require local commissioning organisations, known as Clinical Commissioning Groups, to provide comprehensive health services for the whole population in their area.

NHS patients and staff are now feeling the withering effects of this legislation, and of the government’s refusal to fund the NHS properly.

How to support the relaunched NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign

To support the NHS Reinstatement Bill, you can ask your trade union branch, local political party of whatever colour, and/or any other group you’re associated with, to adopt the NHS Bill motion that commits signatories to:

“actively campaign for [the NHS Reinstatement Bill’s] promotion by using media and working with other campaign groups and trades unions.”

and also calls on:

“individual members to promote the bill and to lobby their own MP both via the Bill’s website and directly through local action.”

84% of the UK public want a publicly owned and run NHS – but the government doesn’t care what the people want

There is an urgent need to stop the galloping dismantlement of the NHS. The Tory government is defunding, running down and commercialising/privatising the NHS – while denying that it’s doing any such thing.

It would be electoral suicide for the government to admit what it’s doing. According to a 2013 YouGov poll (page 3), 84% of the UK public want the NHS to be publicly owned and publicly run, and 77% Tory voters and supporters also hold this view.

Regardless of the will of the people, NHS services are increasingly being withdrawn on the grounds that there isn’t the money or the staff to run them safely, and staff pay and conditions are being undermined, in a hideous vicious circle.

The NHS privatising quango, NHS England, is imposing new ‘care models’ designed to mimic American private health insurance systems, as well as ‘new modern workforce’ plans that aim to make national terms and conditions a thing of the past, and introduce lower-skilled staff to do the job of doctors.

These measures are only going to dismantle the NHS even faster – as are the government’s moves to carve up the NHS by devolving it to cash-strapped local consortia based around regional combined authorities. Starting with DevoManc, for which there is no democratic mandate.

The covert aim of this NHS devolution is to trial cost-cutting models of care, by requiring the Greater Manchester (GM) Combined Authority and the GM NHS organisations to come up with a business plan for integrating health and social care that will feed into the next Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

This will end up wrecking the NHS, by merging it with a means-tested, underfunded social care system. And just to make sure, NHS England’s roll out of personal health budgets for patients who need continuing care has introduced ‘top ups’ and ‘co-payments’ into the NHS, threatening the fundamental NHS principle of universal comprehensive health care that is free-at-the-point-of-need.

DevoManc’s proposed “transformational changes” are about railroading the implementation of NHS England’s cuts and sell offs agenda – as laid out in October 2014 in its Five Year Forward View.

If the government and its NHS privatising quango NHS England gets their way, there will be no NHS by the end of this Parliament.

Clearly we need effective Parliamentary and extra-Parliamentary opposition to stop this.

But barring a miracle, we are stuck with the current government until 2020 – so how would it be possible to get the NHS Reinstatement Bill through the House of Commons when the government is completely opposed to it?

The reality is that the NHS Reinstatement Bill is there as a campaigning mechanism, to provide a basis and focus for the campaign to reinstate a truly public NHS – a campaign supported by many disparate groups and people. It is an important means of discussing and developing policy for a future government that is committed to a public, universal, comprehensive NHS.

Although a relaunched NHS reinstatement Bill campaign is necessary – in order to focus attention on the fact that there IS an organisationally straightforward way of taking back the NHS as a universal, comprehensive, publicly owned and run health service that is based on patients’ clinical needs, and that the Secretary of State has a duty to provide and promote – it’s in no way sufficient.

So we also urgently need to be thinking – what would be sufficient to stop the galloping dismantling of the NHS?

Is the Bill good enough?

Like any Bill, not every issue may be completely worked through in its initial version.

At the national 999 Call for the NHS convention in February 2015, several people  expressed anxiety about the proposal in the Bill to centralise hospital PFI debts in the Treasury; this could make hospital privatisation easier, as crippling PFI debts are a massive turn off for private hospitals looking to take over NHS hospitals.

If after 2020 we have a Government willing to pass the NHS Reinstatement Bill, or something very like it – which must be the campaign’s overall goal – the issue of the best way to resolve the problem of PFI debt (in or out of legislation) would come under major official review, based on the aims of a pro-public NHS government.  This part of the Bill would just be one approach that would be rigorously assessed by lawyers, civil servants and interested parties.  For now, in the context of the Bill, it is an attempt at doing the job of signalling that PFI under New Labour was a huge error and the debts are a harmful problem, at odds with the NHS we want, and that needs to be resolved.

Find out more…

The website for the NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign is here