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NHS bosses flog off yet another £1 billion

Privateers swoop as Bill protecting service reaches 2nd reading

ENGLAND’S health bosses brazenly snubbed the public yesterday, laying out plans to flog off another £1 billion of the NHS as campaigners gathered for a Westminster vigil against privatisation.

Unions Unite, Unison and GMB joined forces in Parliament Square last night to back the second reading of MP Clive Efford’s anti-privatisation Bill today.

But as they gathered to highlight the plight of England’s NHS news of the latest big sell-off came to light.

A host of firms including G4S and US arms giant Lockheed Martin are thought to be in line to snap up the right to profit from primary care support services.

Health union Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warned that no NHS organisation could win the contract because of clauses that “guaranteed privatisation.”

Yet the winner would have control over a vast array of patients’ data.

“It is an absolute disgrace that NHS England is ready to hand over millions of patients’ records and critical responsibilities to huge worldwide firms,” said Mr Prentis.

Mr Efford’s Bill is aimed at amending the government’s privatising 2012 Health and Social Care Act by rewriting the rules on competitive tendering.

The Eltham Labour MP told the Star that while only the return of a Labour government could reverse the Act, his Bill would “reverse the measures that are forcing services to be put out to competitive tender.”

“If we continue to allow private-sector companies to cherry-pick the most lucrative contracts there will not be enough capacity in the NHS to allow it to provide services in the future, leaving us at the mercy of the private sector,” he said.

GMB national officer Rehana Azam, one of the organisers behind the epic Jarrow to London 999 March for the NHS this summer, said that back-bench Tory and Lib Dem MPs would have to answer to their constituents “if they don’t take this chance to undo the damage done by the coalition’s hugely controversial changes.”

She warned that the current privatisation has been taking place at an “alarming rate” since 2012.

“We have seen almost £12.5bn worth of NHS services put out to market and some 70 per cent of contracts handed to the private sector,” she said.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell described the vigil and vote as “the first step on the journey to next May’s ballot box to restore the NHS to a service free at the point of delivery for all those in need.”

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