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NHS campaigners reacted with fury today after the Tory government’s Health and Care Bill passed its second reading in the Commons.
The legislation, which campaigners have dubbed the “corporate takeover Bill,” was passed on Wednesday night with 356 MPs in favour and 219 against.
Campaigners warn that the Bill will increase the private sector’s involvement in the NHS and have called for Health Secretary Sajid Javid to withdraw it.
Among their concerns are proposed changes to the rules for contracting NHS services. Current legislation requires a process of compulsory competitive tendering for NHS services, but the Bill would end this requirement.
Campaigners say that this would make it much easier for services to be contracted to the private sector without the appropriate checks and balances.
Concerns have also been raised about the introduction of integrated care system boards, which will bring together bodies working within the NHS — including private firms — to work on public health strategy.
We Own It campaigns officer Pascale Robinson said: “Over the last year our NHS has been the lifeblood of our country, keeping so many of us safe during the pandemic.
“The last thing it needs right now is a dangerous and damaging overhaul which would put the private sector at the heart of our health service — and the public know it.
“It’s frankly disgraceful that MPs have voted to support this legislation, which would allow [for-profit] private companies — the likes of Virgin Care and Serco — to sit on boards making calls on where NHS money gets spent.
“This private oversight of our healthcare will undermine the principles at the core of the NHS.”
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