The NHS Reinstatement Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 24th February 2017. Here is a briefing written by Roger Gartland and adapted for NHSpace by Deborah Harrington.
What does the Bill do?
The NHS Reinstatement Bill abolishes twenty five years of commercialisation of the NHS. Everything from Labour’s internal market and purchaser provider split to the Coalition’s NHS England and competitive tendering will go. In their place will be provisions to bring the NHS back into public ownership, including reducing PFI debt, protecting the NHS from trade treaties and bringing the staff’s employment terms and conditions together under an NHS Staff Council. Most importantly, the Bill reinstates the duty of the Secretary of State to secure the NHS for the public good as a service in which private profiteering has no place.
What difference does public service make to the NHS?
In the current climate of cuts and closures the biggest impact of the bill will be substantial savings which can be redirected to patient care. Aneurin Bevan reported the cost of NHS administration in its first year as 3% of budget.
£10bn a year could be saved by ending the market in the NHS
In 2010 the Commons Health Select Committee found the cost of administration in running the NHS as a ‘market’ was 14% of budget. In April 2014 (in the week when Simon Stevens, after ten years at the top of “United Healthcare” of America, took over as CEO of NHS England) Dr Jacky Davis, Consultant radiologist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, stated £10bn a year, the 9% difference in administration costs could be saved by ending the market in the NHS.
Who supports the Bill?
The Bill was first put forward by Lord David Owen in 2013 as a response to the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act. Supporting the Bill has been one of NHA’s policies since then. The Bill was developed by Professor Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick and was first tabled in parliament by Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. A letter was published in the Guardian in support of the Bill with more than 300 famous names from the arts, sport and the academic world, such as Alan Bennett, Jonathan Pryce, Darcey Bussell, Helena Kennedy QC and Sir Raymond Tallis.
In addition Lucas was backed by cross-party support from 77 MPs; a unanimous resolution in support from Unite together with endorsement from the BMA and 63,733 names on a ‘38 Degrees’ public petition. But to carry weight the Bill must be supported by the Opposition – and that means the Labour Party.
To carry weight the Bill must be supported by the Labour Party.
Rachael Maskell MP, Unite’s Head of Health and an NHS physiotherapist for 20 years before being elected to parliament in 2015, called all Labour MPs to a meeting in June 2016 in the Commons to brief them, “on how the NHS is currently undergoing a massive reorganisation in order to reduce its services and to further privatisation, and how this will not be stopped without the NHS Reinstatement Bill.”
What’s happening next?
Margaret Greenwood, Labour MP for Wirral West, will bring the Reinstatement Bill back to Parliament for its second reading on Friday 24 February 2017. She tabled it under the parliamentary ‘ten minute rule’ on 13 July 2016. It is not likely to be given any time, but showing support for it is one of the best ways an MP can demonstrate a real commitment to bringing our NHS back into public hands. Ask your MP to make time to see Peter Roderick, the Bill’s co-author in the House of Commons tomorrow and Tuesday, 30 & 31st January.