Two Wirral MPs have taken part in an important parliamentary debate on the future of the NHS.
Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, and Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead, were speaking as MPs debated a petition calling on the government to ‘Renationalise the NHS, scrap integrated care systems and end PFI contracts’.
The petition has been signed by more than 1,200 people in Wirral, and it has attracted more than 135,000 signatures from people across the United Kingdom.
The petition highlights that, ‘The Government has no democratic mandate to privatise the NHS’ and states that ‘the Health and Care Bill could undermine access to care and universal standards by locking in privatisation…’
The petition can be seen here – https://tinyurl.com/2kfsuafy – and it can be signed until 14 April 2022.
Margaret Greenwood MP spoke of the importance of a universal, comprehensive NHS and warned against the high cost of private health insurance, as seen in the United States, pointing out that there the average cost to an individual of purchasing their own health insurance is $456 per month, according to a 2020 survey by eHealth.
Mick Whitley MP argued that the NHS entered the coronavirus pandemic woefully unprepared and under-resourced and that government ministers are exploiting the NHS staffing crisis and record-breaking backlog to advance an agenda of privatisation and fragmentation.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “I pay tribute to everybody who has signed this important petition.”
“We are incredibly fortunate to have the NHS and we are indebted to Nye Bevan and all of those people who have fought for the NHS as a public service over the years and those who continue that fight today. The campaign against NHS privatisation is as important today as it has ever been.
“The Health and Care Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, exposes the government’s intention to increase the involvement of private companies in the running of the NHS.
“The bill would enable big business to have a say in the healthcare that we receive and it would open the door to widespread privatisation.
“The implications of this for patients and staff are extremely serious. If more and more services are taken over by private companies, healthcare workers will find it increasingly difficult to secure work on Agenda for Change pay, terms and conditions. It would also mean that money that should be spent on patient care would go into the pockets of shareholders.
“I would urge everybody who cares about the future of the NHS to visit the petition website and sign it and share it as widely as they can.
“It is vital that the government understands the strength of feeling among the public on this issue.”
Mick Whitley MP said, “I am enormously grateful to everyone who has signed this petition so far, including hundreds of Birkenhead residents.
“The government’s reforms, which include the introduction of integrated care systems and American-style healthcare management systems, are totally wrong and come at the very worst time for our health service, as it continues to grapple with Covid-19 and the most significant backlog in its history.
“I fear that these reforms will leave our NHS in a far worse state when confronting the public health challenges of the coming decades.
“The government must take heed of the public anger surrounding this issue.
“The public wants an NHS that lives up to its founding principles – a public service that is free and accessible to all.”
Image: Ian Taylor