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NEW government legislation will “Americanise” the NHS and push Britain’s health system towards its demise, left MPs warned in Parliament today.
In a debate led by Leeds East Labour MP Richard Burgon, MP after MP reported on a service already struggling to cope in their constituencies following a decade of underfunding, thousands of exhausted staff forced out, and billions of pounds siphoned off to the private sector.
A Tory MP who defended his party’s record was told that the Conservatives voted 22 times against the creation of the NHS before its creation by Labour in 1948 — and had been working to undermine it ever since.
The debate, The Future of the NHS, took place in Westminster Hall in advance of the third reading next month of the government’s Health and Care Bill, which MPs said opened the door to even more privatisation and the danger of a US-style healthcare system based on ability to pay.
Mr Burgon, secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, said the Bill paves the way for greater privatisation and will lead to more of the crony contracts that were widely reported over the Covid crisis. It amounts to a corporate takeover of the NHS with private companies sitting on the new health boards, he warned.
“This government’s new health Bill should really be called the NHS Corporate Takeover Bill,” he said.
“At a time of a deep public health crisis, the Tories are looking to hand over even more of our NHS to ruthless private companies who exploit people’s ill health for private profit.
“This Bill is the Americanisation of the NHS and could even see US health giants sitting on health boards and directing where crucial resources go.
“It is also a charter for corruption. The dodgy contracts we saw throughout the pandemic will become the norm as the Bill makes it even easier for contracts to go to those with friends in the right places.”
He said that “deliberate underfunding always goes hand in hand with greater privatisation.
“Waiting lists grow, people seek health provision elsewhere. It is a cover to bring the private sector into the NHS when in reality every pound spent bolstering private companies is a pound less spent on people’s healthcare.”
He described the Bill as a “charter for corruption” and said “the profit-hungry vultures will still be circling, trying to pick a profit from human suffering.
“The Tories should scrap the Bill and instead ensure the NHS has the staff and funds it needs to recover from this crisis.”
Tory MP Chris Green (Bolton West) insisted that the NHS needed “innovations” and to achieve them “international collaborations” were essential.
“There is a place for corporations, whether they be in America or Japan or other places,” he said.
York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell said that until the issue of poverty in Britain was addressed “the demands on the NHS will continue to grow.” Yet the government was creating even greater poverty by axing the £20 uplift in universal credit and increasing National Insurance contributions, hitting the poorest hardest.
Mr Burgon warned that if the Health and Care Bill is passed, “there will be no turning back.”
He is supporting the building of an all-party group on NHS privatisation, and a nationwide campaign against privatisation.
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