Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, has spoken out against the government’s Health and Care Bill during two days of debate in Parliament.
The bill passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons this week, which means it will now go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, before returning to the Commons.
The bill represents the government’s plans for a major reorganisation of the NHS into 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). Wirral would sit within Cheshire and Merseyside ICS, one of the largest in the country, and the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) would pass to Integrated Care Boards (ICBs).
Margaret Greenwood MP raised a wide range of concerns about the content of the bill, including that it would:
- allow big business to influence decisions about what healthcare is provided in an area
- allow private healthcare providers to undercut NHS providers
- allow for NHS professions to be taken out of regulation
- mean that some people will have to sell their homes to pay for their care
- allow for vulnerable patients to be discharged from hospital before their social care needs assessments have taken place and put this change on a statutory footing
She also raised concerns about alarming reports of a woman in Greater Manchester being turned away from A&E because she did not present at the A&E in her own area. The Wirral MP pointed out that there is nothing in the bill to address this issue.
Speaking after the debates, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “The Health and Care Bill is a major piece of legislation that would open the NHS up to big business.
“It would allow big corporations to have a say in the care that patients can receive in an area, and it would also create opportunities for NHS providers to be undercut by the private sector.
“If that happens, I believe that we are likely to see more and more services delivered by private providers instead of the NHS. That could have serious implications for NHS staff as they could find themselves forced out of jobs that are currently on Agenda for Change rates of pay, the NHS Pension Scheme and other terms and conditions, with only private sector jobs with potentially lesser pay and conditions available for them to apply for if they wish to continue working in the health service.
“It would also mean that money that should be spent on patient care would go into the pockets of shareholders.
“While it is called the ‘Health and Care Bill’, there was practically nothing about social care in there until the government snuck in an amendment about the social care cap at the last minute that means that some people will have to sell their homes to pay for their care.
“Not only is this yet another broken promise from the Conservative party, it is a policy that will hit home-owning families in the north far harder than those in the south.
“It also allows for the discharge of vulnerable patients from hospital before their continuing healthcare needs have been assessed. This has been happening in pilot schemes since 2016, however, I submitted questions to the government back in May about what the clinical outcomes of those patients has been, and the government does not know because it has not collated the information. It is wrong to pursue a policy that is risky for vulnerable patients without knowing the effect that it will have.”
“The government’s bill will enable the de-regulation of NHS professions, with implications for the level of knowledge and expertise in the system over time.
“There is an acute staffing crisis in the NHS and we know that there are more than 90,000 full-time equivalent vacancies in England’s NHS providers, yet this bill does nothing to address this.
“I tabled a series of amendments to address some of the very serious issues that this bill presents and I voted against the Health and Care Bill at Third Reading.
“I will continue to speak out against it over the coming months as it continues its passage through Parliament.
“People are incredibly proud of the NHS as a publicly-run service. It is our most precious social institution. It must be saved from corporate takeover.”
You can read Margaret Greenwood MP’s three speeches across the two days of debate here:
And you can see all three in these videos: