COVENTRY South MP, Zarah Sultana, has joined calls for the Conservative government to scrap plans to pass a new Bill to reorganise the NHS in England, slamming the Bill as an NHS “Corporate Takeover Bill”.
The calls were made on Tuesday at a protest where Sultana spoke outside the Houses of Parliament.
The action comes as a new poll by We Own It, the campaign for public ownership of public services, shows that 70% of the public – including 70% of Conservative voters and 82% of Labour voters – say they are worried that the Bill would open the NHS to contracts being given out to private companies without scrutiny.
The Health and Care Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Commons on 14 July, is expected to enter the next stage of its passage on 9 November.
The Bill will divide the NHS in England into 42 areas, called Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), each with its own budget and a board to oversee the delivery of health services for the area.
Campaigners and trade unionists say the Bill will allow private companies to sit on the boards that oversee the new ICSs and make decisions about how the budget is spent.
Ms Sultana said: “The Health and Care Bill extends NHS privatisation, opens the floodgates to more cronyism, and incentivises cuts and closures.
“It’s really an NHS Corporate Takeover Bill, which attacks the foundations of the NHS as a truly public service, run in the interests of all.
“NHS staff and the people of Coventry need the government focused on properly funding our health service and rolling back privatisation, not carving it up and opening up the NHS to private healthcare companies.”
The Government has always said the bill would be good for the NHS and its future.
The Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the NHS was not and never would be for sale, and the Health and Care Bill did not in any way affect the principle of free NHS care.
“The bill builds on the NHS’ own proposals for reform and gives the NHS more power, not less.
“It will support a health and care system which is less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated in the wake of the pandemic.”