Save the NHS: Please Sign Petition and Ask Your MP to Attend 2nd Reading of the NHS Reinstatement Bill This Friday, Mar. 11

8.3.16

Image and text from a flier made by the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill, promoting a Private Member's bill put forward by Caroline Lucas MP in 2015 and currently supported by 77 MPs.There are so many horrible aspects to life in the UK under the Tories that it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of them all, unless you’re unfortunate enough to be affected by all of them — the unfettered housing bubble, for example, and the similarly unregulated private rental market, coupled with a sustained assault on social housing; the assault on the unemployed and the disabled; the demonisation of Muslims; the hard-hearted approach to the current refugee crisis; the refusal to tackle the tsunami of anti-immigrant hysteria that has gripped the country since the global banking crisis of 2008 and that has, in fact, more often than not been deliberately stoked by the media, largely with the complicity of politicians; the endless widening of the gap between the rich and the poor; the Prime Minister’s failure to challenge his own right-wingers and UKIP by refusing to call a referendum on Europe, which any credible leader would have done; and, of course, the remorseless assault on the NHS.

As I mentioned last May, just before our thoroughly depressing General Election, when our sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas, launched a Private Members’ Bill, the National Health Service Bill (HC Bill 37), generally known the NHS Reinstatement Bill, with the support of eleven MPs from four other parties (including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell), “Ever since the Tory-led coalition government passed the wretched Health and Social Care Act in 2011 (after David Cameron blatantly lied to the British people, by falsely promising ‘no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS’), privatisation of the greatest and most important institution in the UK, the NHS (National Health Service, founded in 1948), has been increasing to an alarming degree.”

As I also noted last May, I have been involved in trying to save the NHS ever since the Tories first got back into power in 2010. As I stated, “I campaigned against the passage of the Health and Social Care Act at the time (see here and here), and then became heavily involved in the successful campaign to save my local hospital, in Lewisham, in south east London, from savage cuts (see here, here and here). [In 2014] I campaigned to resist the Tories’ spiteful response to Lewisham’s success, which became known as the “hospital closure clause” (see here and here), and covered the People’s March for the NHS, a grass-roots initiative that involved a recreation of the Jarrow March from the 1930s to save the NHS (see here and here).”

Last May, I also noted how, introducing the NHS reinstatement bill in March, Caroline Lucas wrote, “The Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service — with time and flexibility for implementation — and so reversing 25 years of marketisation, for an NHS that is truly public, joined-up, fully protected and free at the point of delivery. Scotland and Wales have already reversed marketisation and restored their NHS without immense upheaval. England can too.”

She added, “Far from being another top-down, centralised re-structuring, the Bill — crucially — reinstates the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the provision of services, something the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) severed. The Bill would strip away the costly market mechanisms that waste NHS money which could be spent on patient care.”

The bill received its first reading last July, but on a first reading there is no debate, so the bill’s first major opportunity to make its mark is this Friday, March 11, when it receives its second reading, and MPs will be able to discuss it. See the bill’s progress here.

Currently, 77 MPs are supporting the bill, and I’m providing a list of them all below, with thanks to the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which put the list together.

Please write to your MP to ask them to support the bill, if they have not already pledged their support. In particular, we need to see many more Labour MPs involved in supporting it. As well as Caroline, there are 18 Labour MPs, one Liberal Democrat, one Plaid Cymru MP, one independent and 55 SNP (Scottish National Party) MPs.

Please also sign the 38 Degrees petition put together by the NHS Reinstatement Bill Group, which includes the bill’s co-authors Professor Allyson Pollock and lawyer Peter Roderick. It was launched on February 11, but I’m disappointed to note that it has so far attracted less than 21,000 signatures.

Under the heading, “Why is this important?” the authors explained:

The NHS in England is being dismantled. NHS services — including acute and emergency, children’s, elderly and maternity care — have been deliberately underfunded since 2010. The comprehensive care we’ve come to expect continues to be cut back.

Many services have been handed to private companies such as Virgin, Serco and US giant United Health, hiding behind the NHS logo. Valuable NHS buildings and land are being sold off to property developers, often as a result of the exorbitant costs of paying for new hospitals built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

These are our services and our assets. We the public own them. And polls repeatedly show that most of us want to keep our NHS.

Privatised services cost the NHS and tax payer far more than when provided by our publicly owned and publicly run NHS.

That is because public health systems don’t seek profits. They don’t need to pay dividends to shareholders. They don’t have the added costs of private sector loans. And they don’t have to pay the management fees that private companies charge.

A public NHS also doesn’t have privatisation’s heavy marketing and contract administration costs of extra lawyers, accountants and management — at least £4.5 billion annually on one estimate and rising. Just cutting them, not NHS services, would go a long way to cover the shortfall between government underfunding and the NHS’ needs over the next 5 years.

These huge commercial costs and the chaos caused by the ongoing NHS fragmentation are the direct result of privatisation. This is endangering the quality and safety of our public healthcare.

Privatisation isn’t just bad for the tax-payer. It’s bad for our health.

That is why we need the National Health Service Bill to remove the costs and waste of privatisation. The NHS Bill will reinstate the NHS as a proper public service.

*****

Last weekend, a letter in support of the bill was also published in the Guardian, signed by hundreds of celebrities and medical professionals, including the actors Keira Knightley, Damian Lewis, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Pryce and Michael Sheen, the writers and authors Joan Bakewell, Julian Barnes, Alan Bennett, William Boyd, Melvyn Bragg and Alexei Sayle, the directors Sir Richard Eyre, Stephen Frears, Ken Loach and Jonathan Miller, the ballerina Darcey Bussell, and model Cara Delivingne. A detailed list of signatories is on the Guardian website, and additional signatories are here.

The text of the letter is below:

Why we support the cross-party NHS bill
Letter, The Guardian, March 5, 2016

NHS services and assets, including blood supplies, nurses, scanning and diagnostic services, ambulances, care homes, hospital beds and buildings – which the British public own – are being handed over to UK and foreign private companies. This is being done without a public mandate. Privatised services cost the NHS and taxpayer far more than when provided by our publicly owned and publicly run NHS. That is because public health systems don’t seek profits. They don’t need to pay dividends to shareholders. They don’t have the added costs of private sector loans. And they don’t have privatisation’s heavy and unnecessary marketising costs of contracts, billings and all the extra administration involved.

The huge commercial costs and chaos caused by the ongoing NHS fragmentation are the direct result of privatisation. This is endangering the quality and safety of our public healthcare. That is why we need the National Health Service bill.

The cross-party NHS bill to bring back the NHS in England as a national universal service and to get rid of the expensive, chaotic internal and external market is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 11 March. It is supported by thousands of individuals and by Labour, Green, SNP and Lib Dem MPs, including Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. We urge MPs to do everything they can to make sure the bill is debated, and to vote in favour of it so that it proceeds to the next stage.

*****

There’s also a protest outside Parliament in support of the bill on its second reading on Friday, which is on Facebook here. Other events are taking place in Brighton Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield (see here for details).

The list of MPs supporting the NHS Reinstatement Bill

1. Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
2. David Anderson (Labour, Blaydon)
3. Richard Burgon (Labour, Leeds East)
4. Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North)
5. Nicholas Dakin (Labour, Scunthorpe)
6. Peter Dowd (Labour, Bootle)
7. Roger Godsiff (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green)
8. Margaret Greenwood (Labour, Wirral West)
9. Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North)
10. Ian Lavery (Labour, Wansbeck)
11. Clive Lewis (Labour, Norwich South)
12. Rob Marris (Labour, Wolverhampton South West)
13. Rachael Maskell (Labour, York Central)
14. John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington)
15. Ian Mearns (Labour, Gateshead)
16. Steve Pound (Labour, Ealing North)
17. Cat Smith (Labour, Lancaster and Fleetwood)
18. Keir Starmer (Labour, Holborn and St Pancras)
19. Catherine West (Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green)
20. John Pugh (Liberal Democrat, Southport)
21. Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)
22. Richard Arkless (SNP, Dumfries and Galloway)
23. Hannah Bardell (SNP, Livingston)
24. Mhairi Black (SNP, Paisley and Renfrewshire South)
25. Ian Blackford (SNP, Skye and Lochaber)
26. Kirsty Blackman (SNP, Aberdeen North)
27. Phil Boswell (SNP, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
28. Deidre Brock (SNP, Edinburgh North and Leith)
29. Alan Brown (SNP, Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
30. Lisa Cameron (SNP, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)
31. Douglas Chapman (SNP, Dunfermline and West Fife)
32. Joanna Cherry (SNP, Edinburgh South West)
33. Ronnie Cowan (SNP, Inverclyde)
34. Angela Crawley (SNP, Lanark and Hamilton East)
35. Martyn Day (SNP, Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
36. Martin Docherty (SNP, West Dunbartonshire)
37. Stuart Donaldson (SNP, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)
38. Marion Fellows (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw)
39. Margaret Ferrier (SNP, Rutherglen and Hamilton West)
40. Stephen Gethins (SNP, North East Fife)
41. Patricia Gibson (SNP, North Ayrshire and Arran)
42. Patrick Grady (SNP, Glasgow North)
43. Peter Grant (SNP, Glenrothes)
44. Neil Gray (SNP, Airdrie and Shotts)
45. Drew Hendry (SNP, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
46. Stewart Hosie (SNP, Dundee East)
47. George Kerevan (SNP, East Lothian)
48. Calum Kerr (SNP, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)
49. Chris Law (SNP, Dundee West)
50. Angus MacNeil (SNP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar)
51. Callum McCaig (SNP, Aberdeen South)
52. Stuart McDonald (SNP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)
53. Stewart McDonald (SNP, Glasgow South)
54. Natalie McGarry (SNP, Glasgow East)
55. Anne McLaughlin (SNP, Glasgow North East)
56. John McNally (SNP, Falkirk)
57. Paul Monaghan (SNP, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
58. Carol Monaghan (SNP, Glasgow North West)
59. Roger Mullin (SNP, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)
60. Gavin Newlands (SNP, Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
61. John Nicolson (SNP, East Dunbartonshire)
62. Brendan O’Hara (SNP, Argyll and Bute)
63. Kirsten Oswald (SNP, East Renfrewshire)
64. Steven Paterson (SNP, Stirling)
65. Angus Robertson (SNP, Moray)
66. Alex Salmond (SNP, Gordon)
67. Tasmina Sheikh (SNP, Ochil and South Perthshire)
68. Tommy Sheppard (SNP, Edinburgh East)
69. Chris Stephens (SNP, Glasgow South West)
70. Alison Thewliss (SNP, Glasgow Central)
71. Owen Thompson (SNP, Midlothian)
72. Michael Weir (SNP, Angus)
73. Corri Wilson (SNP, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock)
74. Eilidh Whiteford (SNP, Banff and Buchan)
75. Philippa Whitford (SNP, Ayrshire)
76. Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire)
77. Michelle Thomson (Independent, Edinburgh West – resigned SNP whip in Sept 2015)

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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6 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, supporting the ‪NHS‬ Reinstatement Bill, introduced last year by our Green MP Caroline Lucas, which has its second reading on Friday. 77 MPs currently support it (inc. 55 SNP, but just 18 Labour – and NO Tories), so please ask your MP to support it if they haven’t already. I include a list of the 77 MPs. I don’t wish to sound hyperbolic, but there is no greater achievement in the UK than the NHS, and yet it is being remorselessly destroyed by the Tories.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Sorry to see this attracting so little interest. I do hope UK readers understand that, unless they’re rich and heartless, it’s essential that we fight to save the NHS from the Tories who are determined to destroy it. Today the junior doctors have begun their third strike, following the imposition on them of a dangerous and unfair contract by the wretched Jeremy Hunt, who really is not fit for purpose.
    See: http://oneprofession.bma.org.uk/
    http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/mar/09/if-jeremy-hunt-doctor-tribunal-nhs-strikes
    Please note also that “junior doctors” is a bit of a misnomer, suggesting that they’re very young and newly qualified, when it actually means most doctors, just not those who, for example, are in senior positions as well-paid consultants.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    From the Guardian​:
    “Junior doctors went on strike for the third time in three months on Wednesday to protest against government proposals to change the terms of their contracts, as public support for their industrial action showed no sign of flagging … A poll for the BBC showed that 65% support the industrial action, almost identical to the backing before the previous strike last month. In a further boost for the BMA, the percentage against the strike has dropped from 22% last month to 17%.”
    See: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/09/junior-doctors-third-strike-contract-nhs-jeremy-hunt

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    There’s an ITV poll asking if people support the junior doctors’ strike. i just said yes, joining 93% of the people who’ve responded. Please vote! http://www.itv.com/news/update/2016-03-09/poll-do-you-support-the-junior-doctors-strike/

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    The Guardian has an article today, “NHS records worst ever performance figures,” which completely fails to mention how the Tory government’s cuts are to blame:
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/10/nhs-records-worst-ever-performance-in-january
    Check out “The map that shows what austerity has done to NHS hospital deficits” from the Independent, two days ago, based on research by the Health Foundation, which found that “all regions of the English NHS have gone from a surplus in 2012/13 to all but one being in overall deficit in 2014/5. The problems are principally the fault of Government policies leading to an increased reliance on expensive agency workers, with funding failing to keep pace”:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nhs-hospitals-austerity-finances-a6918896.html
    And also check out Eoin Clarke’s report from January, “100 ways the Tories have failed the NHS (evidence based with links to data)”: http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2014/12/report-100-ways-tories-have-failed-nhs.html

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Bloody Tories! Filibustered in Parliament today so there was no time to discuss the NHS Reinstatement Bill: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nhs-reinstatement-bill-tory-mps-filibuster-debate-by-talking-about-deporting-foreigners-for-hours-a6925781.html
    There’s a 38 Degrees petition calling for filibustering to be banned – it’s nearly on 15,000 signatures already: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-filibustering-in-the-house-of-commons
    And here’s GP Youssef El Gingihy’s article about why debate on the bill today would have been so important, “Terrifyingly, according to the World Health Organisation definition the UK no longer has a NHS”: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/terrifyingly-according-to-the-world-health-organisation-definition-the-uk-no-longer-has-a-nhs-a6923126.html

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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