Our NHS is in crisis and the only thing happening in Westminster is a determined effort to further privatisation of the service.
The crisis in our NHS
In Eastbourne a 70 year old woman fell on Wednesday afternoon. She had to lie on a cold pavement for six hours until an ambulance arrived despite several 999 calls being made. Just this week I read a mother’s account of calling for an ambulance as her child lay convulsing in front of her. After waiting and repeatedly phoning 999 she took the risk of driving the child to hospital herself.
In September, doctors at Sussex University Hospital wrote to their Chief Executive warning that services were extremely unsafe. The Nursing Times reported seeing a staggering rise in mental health problems amongst NHS staff since the pandemic began.
NHS waiting lists stand at nearly 6m and there are over 100,000 vacancies left unfilled as existing staff vote on taking industrial action.
Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell supports a Bill for further privatisation
I don’t think many of us voted for this, but we did elect a Government who seems to be devoid of any real motivation to improve things. I have been writing to Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell recently to ask if she believes the Health and Care Bill will address any of the serious issues now affecting our healthcare. Caroline has voted in favour of this Bill at the second reading. She must explain how she can justify her action in light of the dire failures affecting the NHS.
So far all she has said is that her vote reflected her belief in the concept of integrating health and social care. Although she has not claimed that doing this would rectify current problems in the NHS.
The Health and Care Bill 2021
The Health and Care Bill has been greenwashed by those desperate to fight off criticism. They claim this Bill will integrate health and social care reducing unnecessary admissions. It won’t do anything of the sort.
Many people have claimed this Bill will end privatisation in the NHS by removing Section 75. This Section compelled CCGs to put services out for competitive tendering. It is however, going to legalise cronyism.
So what will this Health and Care Bill really do?
- The Bill will break our NHS into 42 separate healthcare systems each managed by an Integrated Care Board. The purchaser/ provider split will remain as will the divisions between primary and secondary care, general medicine and psychiatric medicine, and health and social care.
- These Boards will each have a fixed pot of money to purchase health and social care for the population they serve. If the pot of money runs out there will be no care available.
- Representatives from private healthcare and insurance firms may sit on these boards and are likely to far outnumber representatives from the state sector.
- The Bill will disband our Clinical Commissioning Groups and the County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. In East Sussex, an ICB that governs over the whole of Sussex will be in control of services. We will lose local accountability. Local democratic control will cease as only one elected representative will sit on a Board.
- There are no pledges to increase funding or increase staff wages.
- The Secretary of State for Health will gain another 138 extra powers including the right to remove any health profession from regulatory control. And, even get rid of regulatory bodies that govern over the professions.
- The Bill removes the clause that says CCGs must put services out to competitive tendering. But it does not replace this clause with an alternative. The likelihood of a continuation of the cronyism we saw during the pandemic continuing seems high. Matt Hancock was found to have acted unlawfully when he handed large contracts to friends and family of senior Tories. Removal of this clause will legalise such actions.
But we are not seeing anything take place at Government or local authority level to repair the damage. We have appealed to our MP to explain how her actions of supporting this Bill at the second reading will do anything to help keep people safe. We also handed in a letter to her from campaign group, We Own It, wearing our scarey halloween Richard Branson masks. Our campaign has also contacted the local authority to ask what they are doing. Please help us by signing this open letter to the county councillors calling on them to take action. This Bill will almost certainly become an Act of Parliament but we must not give up.
It is time for the population to act
In the absence of any meaningful action by our elected representatives we need to take action as a community. We can start by flooding our MP’s offices with letters, emails and phonecalls demanding a better response.
We must demand Government respects our right to healthcare. This Government’s apparent insouciance to protecting the population’s health has led to loss of life already. We must demand adequate funding for our NHS. Staff pay and conditions must reflect the importance of their roles and the efforts they put in. Privatisation is a harmful, dangerous policy that will attack our ability to have an effiicient and equitable healthcare service. Private sector investment will be necessary unless the NHS has adeqaute funding.
Our NHS is buckling and social care is broken. The political parties are failing us all in allowing or encouraging this to happen. It is time we as a population demand that our NHS is repaired, rebulit and expanded.
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