NHS Bill is toxic say TUC
- Published on Tuesday, 06 September 2011 09:11
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The Health and Social Care Bill, due to start its final Commons stages today (Tuesday), has been 'barely improved' by the government's pause and Future Forum consultation, says the TUC in a briefing for MPs produced on behalf of all its member health unions
The main concern of health staff that the Bill undermines the founding principles of the NHS has not been met, says the TUC. Instead the NHS will be made more complex and bureaucratic with new structures absorbing funds that will be taken from patient care at a time when services are already being cut.
NHS staff's top concerns with the Bill are:
- The reforms are still based on extending competition and markets within the health service even though international evidence already shows the NHS is one of the most efficient health systems in the world.
- NHS hospitals will be allowed to maximise their income from private patients, which will mean NHS patients are pushed to the back of growing waiting lists.
- The government is still pushing ahead with the Any Qualified Provider concept which will hinder NHS provision, and open up swathes of the health service to the private sector.
- The Secretary of State for Health will no longer have a full duty to ensure the provision of NHS services, increasing the risk of postcode lotteries in the care available, and meaning a lack of accountability.
- The changes are being forced through at a time when the NHS is already being asked to find £20 billion of efficiency savings (4 per cent a year) and Monitor has advised foundation trusts to find an extra 2.5 per cent a year. The cost of the re-organisation is estimated at £3 billion a year and is rising by £1 million a day.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Instead of dealing with the real criticisms of its health reforms, the government is simply making the reforms even more complex and bureaucratic. If MPs don't reject the Bill, we will be calling on Peers to use their powers to the full to save the NHS.
'Neither coalition party said they would undermine the NHS in this way in their manifestos, and the government has absolutely no mandate for this toxic cocktail of competition, markets and cuts.'
The TUC is calling on NHS supporters to hold a vigil for the NHS as MPs vote on the Bill on Wednesday. They can show their support online at www.goingtowork.org.uk and 'adopt a Peer' to ensure Peers will hear from NHS defenders as they start to debate the Bill. The TUC will be organising a candlelit vigil at Westminster on Wednesday evening (details below).
At 9.30pm on Wednesday 7 September, Brendan Barber, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis, Royal College of Midwives General Secretary Cathy Warwick, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, Frances O'Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary and Lesley Mercer, Director of Employment Relations at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, will be joined by health service workers to gather for a candle-lit vigil.
The aim of the vigil is to lobby Peers, who will be taking on the responsibility of safeguarding the NHS' future if MPs vote to pass the Bill, and to show them that the fight to protect the NHS will not end in the Commons.
The vigil is taking place at Old Palace Yard, at the southern end of the Houses of Parliament for about an hour. As well as their (battery-operated) candles and torches, vigil attendees will stand in front of a giant candle-shaped banner featuring pictures of supporters of the All Together for the NHS campaign.